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   Cruise Travel - Cruise News

Cruise Club is a free service, and when you join, you will begin receiving weekly updates including the latest cruise news and cruise specialsWelcome to this week's edition of Cruise News, the best place on the Web to find up-to-date information about cruises. To automatically receive Cruise News via email each week, join our Cruise Club.

For up to the minute news, stop by Cruise Talk anytime to post a message or find out what your fellow passengers and industry insiders are saying about a particular ship, cruise line or destination.


Cruise News - April 20, 2015

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Viking Star Sets Sail On Maiden Voyage
Viking Ocean Cruises today announced its first ship, Viking Star, has embarked on her maiden voyage from Istanbul to Venice, thus launching the travel industry's first entirely new cruise line in a decade. From Venice, Viking Star will make her way through the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic on her way to be officially christened in Bergen, Norway during a citywide celebration on May 17 – Norwegian Constitution Day. Developed from the ground up to return the focus of cruising to the destination, Viking Ocean Cruises also has two additional sister ships on order – Viking Sky and Viking Sea – all of which will sail itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic; and the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.

Viking Star Sets Sail On Maiden Voyage"We have always believed that cruising should be about connecting you to your destination – not just taking you to places on a map. It is our view that in the race to build bigger ships, many cruise lines have lost sight of the destinations to which they sail," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "With our new ocean cruises, we have created a new kind of vessel that is smaller in size and smarter in design, offering an alternative to today's mega liners. Along with our privileged-access excursions and onboard enrichment, we have made the destination the true focus of our new ocean cruises."

Viking Star has a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons and accommodates 930 passengers in 465 staterooms – each with its own veranda. Engineered at a scale that allows direct access into most ports, guests have an easy and efficient embarkation and disembarkation, allowing them more time to spend enjoying each destination.

Light-filled with modern Scandinavian décor, Viking Star was designed by experienced nautical architects and engineers, including the same interior design team responsible for the award-winning fleet of Viking Longships. Throughout the ship, details were incorporated to pay homage to Nordic heritage and to help guests immerse themselves in local surroundings. A glass-backed infinity pool cantilevered off the stern offers unobstructed views; indoor-outdoor spaces offer more options for al fresco dining than any other vessel in its class; huge windows and skylights blur the lines between inside and out; and a wrap-around promenade deck nods to a bygone era of classic ocean liners.

Onboard Viking Star, clean lines, woven textiles and light wood evoke the Viking spirit of discovery and connection to the natural world. A carefully curated collection of Scandinavian artwork adorns the walls of the restaurants and public spaces. In the two-deck Explorers' Lounge at the bow of the ship, the décor was inspired by ancient Viking trade routes and navigation methods – imagery of star constellations and astronomical maps are complemented by antique globes, astrolabes and sofas with cozy pelts. In the Spa, the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia is in mind – from the Nordic ritual of the hydrotherapy pool and the first Snow Room at sea, to materials inspired by Scandinavian nature: Swedish limestone and black slate; juniper and teak wood details; recycled and etched opaque glass; and cast iron. In the Wintergarden, blonde wood "trees" stretch their branches up to the glass ceiling, forming a lattice canopy over a serene space where guests can enjoy afternoon tea service. And in the Viking Living Room, a geometric garden was inspired by the wild lichen of Norway's Finse Mountain Plateau.

Leveraging extensive feedback and input from Viking River Cruises passengers, Viking Ocean Cruises was developed with experienced travelers in mind. Itineraries are designed for maximum time in port, often with late evenings or overnights, so guests can experience local culture at night or evening performances. Ports include both cosmopolitan cities and "collector ports," appealing to those with an interest in history, art, music, and cuisine.

While onboard, guests will enjoy informative talks from local experts and carefully selected lecturers in The Theater. Dining options onboard Viking Star elevate food as a cultural experience – the World Café features global cuisine with live cooking and open kitchens; Mamsen's features Norwegian deli-style fare, according to the recipes of Hagen's mother, Ragnhild, otherwise known as "Mamsen;" and Manfredi's Italian Restaurant embraces authentic Tuscan and Roman cuisine. In the Kitchen Table, the high-tech space offers cooking classes featuring a wide range of regionally inspired dishes and culinary techniques; at night it transforms into an interactive dinner experience with fellow guests and Viking's esteemed chefs.

Royal Caribbean Reports Strong First Quarter Earnings
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) today reported stronger than expected first quarter results and updated its outlook for the full year.

Commercially the year is turning out as expected, with strong booking trends and yield growth for all major products. The strengthening of the US Dollar and the rise in fuel prices are negatively affecting earnings, but cost efficiencies are mitigating a large portion of the impact.

Royal Caribbean Reports Strong First Quarter Earnings"It is gratifying to post another strong quarter with both revenues and expenses exceeding expectations," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer. "Despite ongoing volatility in the currency and fuel markets, our Double-Double program remains solidly on track."

FIRST QUARTER RESULTS - Adjusted Net Income for the first quarter of 2015 was $45.2 million, or $0.20 per share, compared to Adjusted Net Income of $46.1 million, or $0.21 per share, in the first quarter of 2014. Results were approximately $0.08 better than the mid-point of guidance, despite a $0.05 currency and fuel headwind. US GAAP Net Income for the first quarter 2015 was $45.2 million or $0.20 per share compared to $26.5 million or $0.12 per share in 2014.

Net Yields on a Constant-Currency basis decreased 1.0% during the quarter. Strong close-in demand for Caribbean sailings catapulted yields over the top end of guidance and more than offset weaker onboard sales from our internationally sourced guests. Given that the majority of onboard revenue sales are priced in US Dollars, the strengthening of the Dollar reduced the purchasing power of many of our internationally sourced guests, which modestly affected their onboard spend.

Constant-Currency NCC excluding fuel increased 0.9% which is 160 basis points better than guidance, mainly driven by efficiencies. Bunker pricing net of hedging for the first quarter was $597 per metric ton and consumption was 344,000 metric tons.

FULL YEAR 2015 - RCL said that it has updated full year Adjusted EPS guidance to a range of $4.45 to $4.65 from $4.65 to $4.85. The strengthening of the US Dollar and the increase in fuel prices since our January guidance is expected to negatively impact earnings by $0.36. Constant-Currency Net Yields are expected to be in the range of up 2.5% to 4.0%, a slight reduction from previous guidance mainly due to the impact of the stronger US Dollar on the purchasing power of our non-US guests.

Net Cruise Costs excluding fuel are expected to be flat to down 1% on a Constant-Currency basis, better than previous guidance of 1% or better.

The fundamentals of the business as well as RCL said that it's focus on the targets associated with the Double-Double program remain on track and are unchanged.

"The business continues to perform well, despite the currency volatility," said Jason T. Liberty, chief financial officer. "Our unwavering commitment to cost consciousness has helped us identify further efficiencies that are driving a significant shift in our cost guidance for the full year. This type of operational focus throughout all facets of our business is a core enabler of our continued financial success."

Overall booking volumes during the first quarter were higher than prior year levels even after adjusting for our increase in capacity. Caribbean itineraries enjoyed particularly strong demand, and bookings were also up year-over-year for Europe and China itineraries. As previously discussed, RCL said that it has taken actions to extend its booking curve, as a result of which booked load factors and APDs are higher than historical levels. More recently, RCL said that it has taken further steps to improve the integrity of its pricing model including steps to eliminate last minute discounting.

Overall, European itineraries are booked at a higher load factor and APD than last year. Western Mediterranean itineraries have been booking well, while trends have been a little weaker for Eastern Mediterranean itineraries, particularly those that turn in Turkey. Demand for China remains strong and bookings have been outpacing expectations despite the significant capacity growth in the region.

Taking into account current fuel pricing, interest rates, currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, RCL said that it expects 2015 guidance for Adjusted EPS to be in the range of $4.45 to $4.65 per share.

SECOND QUARTER 2015 - Constant-Currency Net Yields are expected to increase approximately 3.5% in the second quarter of 2015. NCC excluding fuel are expected to be up approximately 4.5% on a Constant-Currency basis. Based on current fuel pricing, interest rates and currency exchange rates, the company expects second quarter Adjusted EPS will be approximately $0.70 per share.

Anthem of the Seas Christened
Anthem of the Seas ChristenedRoyal Caribbean International has marked the launch of Anthem of the Seas, the world’s newest, most technologically advanced cruise ship.

The ship hosted a spectacular naming ceremony led by Godmother Emma Wilby who took center stage during the ceremony together with Welsh choir Only Boys Aloud to deliver the performance of her life. Wilby is a British travel agent who was selected for the honor in a singing competition for travel agents.

The world’s most revolutionary cruise ship, Anthem of the Seas is setting sail on the next great adventure. Unprecedented innovations in ship design, thrilling activities, game-changing technology, multidimensional entertainment and robust, flexible dining opportunities come together onboard Anthem to create the ultimate, contemporary cruising experience found only on Royal Caribbean. She spans 18 decks, encompasses 167,800 gross registered tons, carries 4,180 guests at double occupancy and features 2,090 staterooms.

Anthem of the Seas will sail out of Southampton, U.K. for her inaugural season before departing for New York Harbor and her new homeport of Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J.

NCL Introduces All-Inclusive Cruising, Now With Free Unlimited Premium Open Bar
Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that beginning January 2016 all guests sailing from Miami aboard Norwegian Sky will enjoy an even more all-inclusive cruise experience with dining, entertainment and now free unlimited beer, wine and premium spirits included. Whether they choose white or red, shaken or stirred, on the rocks or straight up, Norwegian Sky guests will revel in the freedom and flexibility of the most inclusive contemporary cruise vacation at sea.

Beginning January 2016 all guests sailing from Miami aboard Norwegian Sky will enjoy free unlimited beer, wine and premium spirits"We're taking Freestyle Cruising to the next level to provide our guests with an experience unmatched by any other contemporary cruise line," said Andy Stuart, president and chief operating officer for Norwegian Cruise Line. "Norwegian Sky guests will have the freedom to enjoy a cruise vacation the way they desire-whether it's lounging by the pool with a margarita, having a laugh at a comedy show, catching up on their favorite book on their balcony, or indulging in fine dining- all included in their cruise fare."

Guests will enjoy for free a variety of unlimited premium spirits, innovative cocktails curated by the award-winning mixologists from Miami's Bar Lab, wines by the glass and bottled or draft beer up to $11 aboard Norwegian Sky in 2016 and beyond*. Guests 3 to 20 years of age will enjoy unlimited sodas and juice throughout their cruise.

Norwegian Sky sails port-packed three- and four-day roundtrip cruises from Miami to the Bahamas year-round. The new all-inclusive experience will also provide guests with the freedom to enjoy unlimited premium beverages while soaking up the sun on Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's private island in the Bahamas.

In addition to the wide variety of inclusive offerings onboard, Norwegian Sky guests also have the option to indulge in a variety of extra onboard experiences such as specialty restaurants and pampering Mandara Spa treatments. While in port, Norwegian Sky guests can also opt to choose from a wide array of shore excursions offering leisure, adventure and cultural experiences including swimming with dolphins, historical island tours, beach time and more.

Norwegian Sky offers a broad selection of staterooms options including spacious suites and penthouses that accommodate up to five guests, balcony staterooms, oceanview staterooms and moderately priced inside staterooms designed with families in mind to accommodate up to four guests. The ship features 13 dining options, 12 bars and lounges, two pools, five hot tubs, an onboard spa, casino and children's programming.

MSC Cruises Continues Expansion In North America
MSC Cruises, the world's fourth largest cruise line and largest privately-owned cruise company, announced that when MSC Divina – one of the cruise line's most ultra-modern and elegant ships – returns from her season in the Mediterranean, she will once again sail year-round from Miami to the Caribbean starting November 2015.

MSC Cruises Continues Expansion In North America"North America is a key market for MSC Cruises as the company works to double its capacity by 2022," said Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises. "Since the arrival of MSC Divina in Miami in November 2013, we've seen significant growth in the market and strong demand by consumers and travel agents for MSC Divina to sail from North America year-round. We're thrilled to be able to meet this demand, providing more opportunity for North American guests to enjoy the unique 'Mediterranean Style Cruise' experience that only MSC Cruises can offer."

MSC Divina's already published November 2015 through April 2016 itineraries will remain unchanged. New itineraries from April 2016 through March 2017 will rotate between Eastern and Western Caribbean routes and include stops in St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Mexico, and the Bahamas.

A testament to the company's long-term commitment to North America, MSC Cruises' also recently announced that MSC Seaside, set to debut in November 2017, will sail year-round from Miami to the Caribbean.

"MSC Cruises has received extremely positive ratings from travel agents and guests, who rave about the beauty of our Mediterranean-inspired decor, quality of international cuisine, and world-class, standing-ovation quality entertainment," said Rick Sasso, President of MSC Cruises USA. "Keeping MSC Divina in North America year-round will help us expose even more travel agents and consumers to the MSC Cruises' brand as well as build excitement for the arrival of MSC Seaside in 2017."

"PortMiami welcomed MSC Cruises for the first time in November 2013 with MSC Divina," said PortMiami Director and CEO Juan M. Kuryla. "MSC Divina is among the most modern and elegant ships in the industry today. We are extremely proud to welcome her back home for year-round sailings starting November 2015 and are excited for MSC Seaside to join her at PortMiami a few years later."

In addition, MSC Cruises' Miami-based operations will benefit from a newly renovated and expanded dedicated berth and terminal at PortMiami.

Princess Announces Largest-Ever Australia Deployment for 2016-2017
Princess Cruises has announced it will home port five ships to ports in Australia to sail the cruise line’s largest-ever program offering in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific for the 2016-2017 season. Princess Cruises will introduce the 3,082-guest Emerald Princess to the market, with Golden Princess returning to sail from Melbourne and Sun Princess, Sea Princess and Dawn Princess rounding out the fleet and expanding the cruise line’s in-market capacity by 20 percent.

Princess Announces Largest-Ever Australia Deployment for 2016-2017Highlights of the new program include an 84-day Circle South America voyage, more ways to see New Zealand, longer South Pacific cruises and Circle Australia voyage options. In addition, Land and Sea Vacation packages will immerse adventure-seekers in the diverse destinations.

The new Princess Cruises’ Australia season runs from October 2016 to April 2017. “Australia and the entire South Pacific region has always had an allure as a magical place for travellers, and cruising is one of the best ways to explore this part of the world,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “As demand for the region grows, we’re responding with more voyages, more destinations and more creative itinerary options.”

Cruise-goers can choose from 120 cruise options, in total visiting 113 destinations in 39 countries. Some of the choices include:
• An 84-day Circle South America cruise on Sea Princess departing Sydney, Australia on January 11, 2017 and visiting 28 destinations in 18 countries including Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador and Uruguay. Overnight calls in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and Lima and a full-transit of the Panama Canal add to this special voyage.
• More ways to explore the natural wonders of New Zealand with all five Princess ships sailing to the country’s beautiful coastal landscapes on cruises ranging from 11- to 14-days.
• Circle Australia voyages on Sun Princess with departures from Sydney in October 2016 and March 2017 as well as the first-ever roundtrip voyages from Brisbane and Fremantle.
• 10- to 14-day voyages through the idyllic and remote islands of the South Pacific from Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne, on Sun Princess and Sea Princess.
• A 42-day four continent voyage from England to Australia on September 28, 2016 aboard Emerald Princess as she sails south for her first-ever season Down Under.
• Two 42-day journeys to the Orient aboard Dawn Princess sailing from Sydney and Brisbane with visits to multiple destinations in China and Japan. The Sydney sailing departing March 16, 2017 is timed to visit Japan during its famous Cherry Blossom season.

To further enhance the cruise vacation experience, Princess Cruises will offer two Land and Sea Vacation packages. The Australian Outback package immerses guests in Aboriginal culture and includes visits to the Great Barrier Reef and Ayers Rock in Uluru National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The more extensive Ultimate Australia package highlights include a Sydney city tour, the Great Barrier Reef, the northern tropical city of Darwin, the Outback and more.

Disney Adding Enhancements to the Disney Dream This Fall
Exciting new experiences await Disney Dream guests after spaces throughout the Disney Cruise Line vessel are transformed this fall. Headlining the enhancements are two new interactive youth areas, one themed to Star Wars and another to Disney Infinity. Also a whimsical sweet shop serving handmade gelato and the ever-popular Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique will debut after the Disney Dream undergoes dry dock Oct. 4-24, 2015, in Freeport, Bahamas.

Here is a glimpse at what is in store for guests of all ages:

Kids will be transported to a far away galaxy at Star Wars: Millennium Falcon, a Force-filled play areaStar Wars Area Brings Force-filled Fun for Children - A newly themed area in Disney's Oceaneer Club, open to ages three to 12, will delight children with an out-of-this-galaxy experience inspired by the Star Wars saga.

Kids will be transported to a far away galaxy at Star Wars: Millennium Falcon, a Force-filled play area inspired by the spacecraft from the legendary saga. Upon entering the spaceship, younglings will join the Rebel Alliance in the epic battle of good versus evil by assisting with the navigation of this powerful space vehicle. Sitting in the cockpit, children can pilot this super-cool spaceship through hyperspace and trigger lightspeed jumps to different locations around the galaxy.

In Millennium Falcon, children can express their creativity through Star Wars-themed crafts, games and activities. They can also watch episodes from the new Disney XD animated series, "Star Wars Rebels," on a large screen or virtually join the rebellion at gaming stations featuring the series' action-packed adventures.

The excitement continues during a shipboard version of the popular Jedi Training Academy experience that invites young Jedi hopefuls –known as "Padawans" –to learn lightsaber moves from a Jedi Master. They can then use the Force and face off in a final test against the evil Darth Vader.

High-Tech Disney Infinity Space Adds Adventure for Kids - Also in the Oceaneer Club,a high-tech interactive space based on the Disney Infinity video game offers more fun for kids.

In the Disney Infinity Toy Box area, children can experience a whole new way of playing together with exciting virtual experiences and immersive activities. Customized, on-screen adventures will bring to life characters and stories from across The Walt Disney Company.

The complete set of Disney Infinity character figures will be on display for creative inspiration and available for gameplay. Kids visiting this special room–found only on the Disney Dream – will be able to unlock exclusive Disney Cruise Line content that they can continue to enjoy when playing Disney Infinity at home.

Special activities will bring the virtual gameplay experience to life in the real world. For example, a life-sized Disney Infinity Base sets the stage where children take the place of character figures for a group gaming experience unlike any other. Lighting up in response to gameplay on a large screen, this interactive floor will allow kids to be immersed in the Toy Box.

Specialty Sweet Shop for Families - Vanellope's Sweets & Treats will satisfy the sweet tooth of cruisers of all ages,with handmade gelato and ice cream, an assortment of candy,and delectable novelty treats for purchase. New to Deck 11, the smell of freshly baked waffle cones and candy will linger from the specialty store's two entrances, inside Cabana's restaurant and outside by the pool deck.

Resembling the whimsical candy land of the Sugar Rush race car game in "Wreck-It Ralph," the sweet shop's decor features nods to the film, including a race track and checkerboard patterned floor, gas pump-style gumball dispensers, Vanellope's race car and King Candy's throne.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, coming to Deck 5 midship, will bring to life the storybook fantasies of young guests with pixie-dusted and piratical makeovers. This very special salon will offer aspiring princesses and knights ages three to 12 the chance to transform into royalty with the help of a fairy godmother-in-training. On pirate party night this boutique becomes The Pirates League where swashbuckling pirates of all ages will have the opportunity to unleash their inner buccaneer.

Exclusively for adults, Deck 13 forward will include a new water feature, Satellite Falls, a circular splash pool with benches and a gently falling rain curtain that provides cool comfort. Around this upper deck, adult guests can soak up the sun in loungers or relax in the shade under a canopy.

This wave of enhancements to the Disney Dream debuts on the Oct. 26 four-night voyage from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas and Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. The Disney Dream will continue to sail three- and four-night cruises from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas throughout 2015 and into 2016.

MSC Cruises' First Next Generation Ship Named "MSC Meraviglia"
MSC Cruises, the world's largest privately-owned cruise company, marked a key milestone in its $5.4 billion growth plan today as the first steel for its new Vista generation of megaships was cut at STX France, during a ceremony in Saint-Nazaire.

At the steel-cutting ceremony, MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago told assembled press and dignitaries that the cutting-edge 4,500 guest (double occupancy), 167,600-GRT ship — due to be delivered in May 2017 and open for bookings from June 2015 — will be named MSC Meraviglia. She will spend her first summer sailing the western Mediterranean, and will be the first to have three homeports: Genoa, Marseille and Barcelona.

MSC Cruises' First Next Generation Ship Named MSC Meraviglia"MSC Meraviglia will be the biggest and most innovative cruise ship ever built by a global European-based cruise line," said Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises Executive Chairman. "We chose a name that denotes the sense of awe and wonderment felt when you experience the ship's stunning features, which only an MSC cruise, with its unique Mediterranean-style, can deliver. MSC Meraviglia brings together the industry knowhow of MSC Cruises, a young, bold company built upon 300 years of seafaring tradition and the expertise of one of the most advanced shipyards in the world. Today, building started on a true maritime marvel."

STX France General Manager Laurent Castaing added: "Since March 2014, more than 400 people from our various teams have been working tirelessly to define the special features of a ship that, I am certain will set the standard for its generation. This extraordinary project is testament to MSC Cruises' visionary approach, and we are proud to collaborate with them through our capacity for innovation and know-how."

Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises Chief Executive Officer said: "This steel-cutting event marks a decisive milestone in the company's development plan, one that will see MSC Cruises double its capacity by 2022 through up to seven new ships and a $5.4 billion investment plan."

He added: "MSC Meraviglia will be one of the greenest and safest ships in the industry, as well as one of the most technologically advanced. We are thrilled that in just a few weeks guests can start booking this truly remarkable ship, which will bring cruise travellers to the most exciting destinations around the world in outstanding comfort and style."

Designed for unrivalled agility, MSC Meraviglia and the other upcoming Vista project ships will be perfectly able to call at any cruise port in the world, meaning guests from around the world will now be able to explore more of the best destinations on one of MSC Cruises' next generation ships.

Among the ships' manifold features will also be specially crafted 'cluster cabins' for families, and an extended MSC Yacht Club, the wholly self-contained luxury area on the prestigious foredecks, which will be enhanced with duplex suites, a vast solarium and a private lounge and restaurant. They will be packed with extraordinary features that make them ideal for cruising in summer and winter, including wide dining options and entertainment choices, stunning panoramic spaces, a large theatre and a spectacular amusement park linked to an outdoor aqua park, as well as a three-deck interior promenade.

MSC Meraviglia will also feature a range of technological advancements, such as 'Near Field Communication' technology, enabling guests to do things like make onboard payments, access their staterooms or geo-locate children, simply by using their cruise card, bracelet or smartphone. Another jaw-dropping feature will be a 5,167 square foot LED screen, which forms the entire ceiling of the ship's interior promenade. Like a digital sky, this LED image vault will beam out compelling images and vistas day and night – including scheduled visual events – creating a variety of powerful atmospheres at all times.

MSC Meraviglia is the first of two identical ships on order from STX France, the second of which will be entered in to service in 2019. In addition, MSC Cruises has options for two further Vista project ships to be delivered by 2022.

The Vista project is the result of a lengthy development process under STX's ECORIZON® program to create cleaner, smarter, more efficient ships. They will be water emission free, and their hulls and propulsion systems will be optimized for extreme energy efficiency. Scrubber technology will neutralize fumes and CO2 emissions in accordance with the latest international maritime regulations. In addition, the ship is fully compliant with the Safe return to Port requirement.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 46.49 + 2.80%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 72.71 - 9.10%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.88 + 1.05%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 51.29 - 4.63%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Beginning in March of 1989, Cunard's QE2 was out of service for 72 days. Why was she out of service?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which famous former liner served as James Bond's headquarters in the film "The Man with the Golden Gun"?

Answer - James Bond's headquarters in the film "The Man with the Golden Gun" was aboard the wreck of the Queen Elizabeth in Hong Kong harbor.
courtesy of Manuela Flynn


Cruise News - April 13, 2015

Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas Arrives
Royal Caribbean International’s newest ship, Anthem of the Seas, sailed into Southampton Cruise Port today with a lineup of unexpected experiences at sea bringing thrilling adventures to guests of all ages. From the RipCord by iFLY sky diving experience and the North Star, a glass observation capsule that takes guests more than 300 feet above the ocean, to futuristic entertainment, a robust culinary experience and game-changing technology that encompasses everything from robotic bartenders to superfast wireless connectivity, Anthem of the Seas will allow guests to vacation like never before.

Carnival Magic will reposition to Port Canaveral in December 2016 to offer two different seven-day Caribbean itinerariesAnthem of the Seas will sail her inaugural spring and summer season from her homeport of Southampton, U.K., offering Europe and Mediterranean itineraries. In fall 2015 she will cross the Atlantic to make Cape Liberty Cruise Port in New York Harbor her permanent home, sailing to the Caribbean. No matter where she is or what water she’s plying, Anthem will treat guests to an incomparable vacation experience that can only be found on Royal Caribbean. Highlights of Anthem of the Seas include:

Endless experiences await guests onboard Anthem of the Seas, with thrills that can only be found on Royal Caribbean. From North Star,providing guests breathtaking, panoramic views from 300 feet above sea level, to RipCord by iFLY, the first skydiving experience at sea, and SeaPlex, the largest indoor active space at sea that is complete with bumper cars, a circus school, roller skating and more, there is no end to the fun that can be found onboard.

Be it day or night, Anthem of the Seas will keep guests inspired and entertained. An extraordinary lineup of multidimensional entertainment onboard Anthem of the Seas will delight guests of all ages in a variety of state-of-the-art venues, including Two70, where a combination of live performers and technology come together to deliver spectacular, multidimensional shows and events that have never before been seen on land, let alone at sea. The Royal Theater is home to the ship’s two main shows, “We Will Rock You” and “The Gift,” while Music Hall, the hottest live music venue at sea, keeps guests rocking and dancing the night away.

Anthem of the Seas features a fresh approach to cruise ship dining, thanks to a robust culinary experience that allows guests to customize their onboard dining experience to best meet their varying palates and preferences. An all-new Dynamic Dining experience gives guests a selection of 18 restaurant concepts, including five complimentary main dining restaurants, along with the opportunity to choose between Dynamic Dining Choice, which allows guests to decide when, where, and with whom to dine each evening, and Dynamic Dining Classic, which is designed for those who prefer a more traditional experience. In addition, Anthem of the Seas features a lineup of specialty dining restaurants, as well as partnerships with world-renowned chefs such as Jamie Oliver, Michael Schwartz, and Devin Alexander.

From ultrafast Wi-Fi and RFID technology, to virtual views from interior staterooms and robots that can mix up a mean cocktail, Anthem of the Seas, is packed with a bold lineup of technological advancements that will impress even the most tech-savvy modern traveler. Designed to seamlessly deliver unprecedented guest vacation experiences at sea, technology is prevalent throughout the ship, substantially increasing guest convenience and efficiency and ensuring a cruise onboard Anthem of the Seas is nothing but smooth sailing.

Carnival To Expand Capacity On Short Cruises
Carnival Cruise Line will build upon its leadership position in Port Canaveral, Fla., expanding capacity on three- and four-day Bahamas cruises by 34 percent and deploying its newest class of ship on seven-day Caribbean voyages in 2016.

Carnival will enhance its short Bahamas cruise program from Port Canaveral with Carnival Victory replacing Carnival Sensation on this popular route in February 2016. The move not only increases capacity on the three- and four-day cruises but also provides guests with a greater variety of on-board features and amenities, including more than 500 balcony staterooms aboard Carnival Victory.

Carnival Magic will reposition to Port Canaveral in December 2016 to offer two different seven-day Caribbean itinerariesAdditionally, Carnival Magic will reposition to Port Canaveral in December 2016 to offer two different seven-day Caribbean itineraries, providing consumers with exciting new week-long cruise vacation choices from Central Florida. Carnival Magic is part of the line's newest class of ship and offers such features as a WaterWorks aqua park, Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian restaurant and SportSquare outdoor recreation area.

In turn, Carnival Sensation, which boasts WaterWorks, Serenity adults-only retreat and numerous other features, will shift to Miami in February 2016 to operate the line's attractive and convenient year-round four- and five-day cruise schedule.

"We are significantly 'upping our game' in Port Canaveral with the addition of these great new ships to the important and growing Central Florida market," said Christine Duffy, Carnival's president. "When these ships join the spectacular Carnival Sunshine, this dynamic trio of 'Fun Ships' will offer our guests and valued travel agent partners the widest array of attractive and convenient cruising options from the Space Coast," she added.

Expanded Capacity on Short Cruises from the Space Coast - Carnival Victory, currently based in Miami, will reposition to Port Canaveral to launch a schedule of three- and four-day cruises beginning Feb. 25, 2016, dramatically expanding the line's capacity on this program. On this route, three-day cruises depart Thursdays and visit Nassau, while four-day cruises depart Sundays and call at both Nassau and Freeport.

In addition to providing a newer, larger ship on short cruises from Central Florida, Carnival Victory boasts a variety of on-board features, including a 14,500-square-foot spa, four swimming pools – one with a 214-foot-long water slide – along with 18 lounges and bars whose stunning interiors are inspired by the world's most famous bodies of water.

During their time in the Bahamas, guests can relax on gorgeous white-sand beaches, enjoy numerous shopping, dining and sightseeing opportunities and partake in a wide range of watersports, from snorkeling and scuba diving to kayaking, parasailing and deep-sea fishing.

In October 2016, Carnival Valor -- currently based in Port Canaveral and scheduled to undergo an extensive dry dock in March 2016 that will add a variety of Fun Ship 2.0 innovations -- will take over Carnival Victory's three- and four-day Bahamas cruises from Central Florida on a year-round basis. Carnival Valor will be the only ship operating three- and four-day cruises to offer the line's highly acclaimed Fun Ship 2.0 features. Carnival Victory will subsequently move to another homeport.

Exciting New Seven-Day Choices from Port Canaveral - Carnival Magic will kick off its Port Canaveral-based program with a special eight-day cruise departing Dec. 9, 2016, and featuring St. Thomas, San Juan, Amber Cove (Dominican Republic), and Grand Turk. The ship will then launch year-round seven-day cruises from Port Canaveral Dec. 17, 2016, offering two distinctly different week-long itineraries – a western Caribbean route featuring Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Costa Maya; and an eastern Caribbean option calling at St. Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk and Nassau or Amber Cove.

Carnival Magic features a wide variety of Fun Ship 2.0 innovations, including a massive WaterWorks aqua park featuring a 312-foot-long Twister water slide, the DrainPipe funnel-style water slide and a 300-gallon PowerDrencher tipping bucket, along with an expansive SportSquare outdoor recreation area highlighted by a suspended ropes course with breathtaking views to the sea 150 feet below, and a Caribbean-inspired watering hole called RedFrog Pub.

Carnival Magic will join Carnival Sunshine which offers seasonal five- to eight-day Caribbean voyages from Port Canaveral and is the only ship in the Carnival fleet to offer all of the line's Fun Ship 2.0 innovations, along with unique features like the Speedway Splash water attraction, Ji Ji Asian Kitchen and the Latin-infused Havana Bar.

Special 12-Day Carnival Journeys Cruise on Carnival Magic - In preparation for its Space Coast debut, Carnival Magic will offer a special 12-day Carnival Journeys cruise departing Galveston Nov. 27 and arriving in Port Canaveral on Dec. 9, 2016. Featured ports will include Cozumel; Limon, Costa Rica; Colon, Panama; Cartagena and Santa Marta, Colombia; Aruba, and Grand Turk. Carnival Journeys is a unique collection of nine- to 15-day voyages featuring exotic, less visited ports in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and Hawaii and offering a number of exclusive on-board experiences and activities.

Carnival Sensation's New Miami-Based Short Cruise Program - Carnival Sensation will reposition from Port Canaveral to Miami to offer year-round four- and five-day cruises featuring top ports in the Caribbean, Mexico, The Bahamas, and Florida beginning Feb. 25, 2016. On Carnival Sensation's new Miami-based schedule, four-day cruises depart Thursdays visiting Key West and Cozumel or the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay, and Nassau, while five-day cruises depart Mondays and Saturdays featuring some of the top ports throughout the Caribbean and Bahamas, including Grand Turk, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, Amber Cove, Freeport, Nassau and Half Moon Cay.

NCL Adds Complimentary Asian Restaurants Across Fleet
Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that many of the line's popular Asian dining venues can now be enjoyed on a complimentary basis across the fleet. Guest favorites like Shanghai's Noodle Bar aboard Norwegian's Breakaway Class ships and Norwegian Epic, Jasmine Garden aboard Norwegian Jade, Chin Chin aboard Norwegian Jewel and more will join the extensive list of complimentary dining venues available to Freestyle cruising guests.

NCL Adds Complimentary Asian Restaurants Across FleetAs a part of the Norwegian NEXT program, Norwegian Cruise Line is investing significantly into enhancing guests' dining experience onboard and offering even more culinary options to provide the best cruise vacation experience. As a part of these new initiatives, the cover charge and à la carte pricing for many Asian dining concepts across the fleet has been eliminated to further enhance guest satisfaction and provide guests more freedom to create their ideal cruise vacation.

"Norwegian's Freestyle Dining is the most fun and flexible way for guests to enjoy some of the best dining experiences at sea, when they want and how they want," said Andy Stuart, president and chief operating officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. "We are thrilled to continue that legacy by providing guests with more of the food they have come to love and enjoy with the introduction of fleetwide complimentary Asian cuisine."

Guests cruising aboard Norwegian's Freestyle Cruising ships can indulge in favorites like fried rice, spicy seafood udon noodles, steamed pork dumplings and more free of charge at the following venues:
• Orchid Garden, Norwegian Gem
• Lotus Garden, Norwegian Pearl
• Chin Chin, Norwegian Jewel
• Jasmine Garden, Norwegian Jade
• Shanghai's, Norwegian Epic
• Shanghai's Noodle Bar, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway
• East Meets West, Pride of America
• Shogun, Norwegian Spirit
• Bamboo, Norwegian Dawn
• Ginza, Norwegian Star
• Shangai's Noodle Bar, Norwegian Epic

Norwegian's popular Teppanyaki restaurants will continue to provide guests with the showmanship and culinary delights of Japanese iron-griddle cooking for a per guest cover charge, and Sushi venues across the fleet will retain nominal à la carte pricing.

Celebrity Introduces New Shore Excursion Program
Inspired by vacationers' desire to connect to the world in a meaningful and authentic way, Celebrity Cruises has launched a new shore excursion program with an array of unique global experiences. Featuring special-interest categories and more than 70 new shore excursions , guests can discover a destination through activities designed to match their interests.

Celebrity Introduces New Shore Excursion ProgramFrom immersive sightseeing tours and wellness experiences to fully customizable "Private Journeys" and premium "Celebrity Exclusives," the new shore excursions lineup presents vacationers with unique introductions to the sights, sounds and flavors of the world. Celebrity is offering four new types of experiences for guests to choose from:

"Uniquely Celebrity": Exclusive, upscale adventures in far-off destinations only available on Celebrity Cruises, which include:

• A luxurious day spent as a Sultan in Istanbul, Turkey
• The opportunity to row across the deep blue glaciers in Ketchikan, Alaska
• A zero to sixty Ferrari adventure in Cannes, France

"Culture and Locale": Culturally focused experiences for vacationers who are inspired to go beyond the shores and straight to the heart of each locale:

• An enchanting evening experience of classical music, champagne, rare works of art at the world-famous Faberge Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
• Live concert event in the 14th-century, secret Basilica del Pi in Barcelona, Spain

"Lifestyle and Wellness": Guests can set their pace and choose to focus on creativity, rejuvenation, lifestyle and wellness to nurture mind, body and soul:

• A scenic, guided nature walk in spectacular Melbourne, Australia
• An interactive and enriching wellness experience in Skagway, Alaska

"Family": Enriching experiences, sightseeing journeys and competitive adventures for the whole family that uncover rich history and culture:

• A family Flamenco dance-off in Barcelona, Spain
• Exhilarating sailing plus a mini regatta in Kings Wharf, Bermuda
• A castle and treasure hunt adventure in Copenhagen, Denmark

"Our guests' passions are rooted in interests as diverse as the world itself, and our new shore excursion program will give vacationers the chance to fulfill their love of food, art, relaxation, adventure and more in must-see, global destinations,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. "We’ve closely collaborated with local experts to shape a program that will further enrich a vacationer’s experience and connect them more closely to the exciting places that we sail to."

Celebrity also has launched more than 70 new excursions including exclusive behind-the-scenes experiences at globally recognized landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, as well as enriching, interactive wellness experiences such as a tour of the lush Jewell Gardens in Alaska – and with more to come.

Princess Appoints New Vice President of Public Relations
Princess Cruises has appointed Brian O’Connor to the role of vice president, public relations, effective June 1. He succeeds Julie Benson who will retire May 29, after 32 years of service. In this role, O’Connor will lead the team accountable for media relations, publicity, social media, community relations, ship introductions and special events. He will drive messaging for product and program launches and be responsible for issues management and crisis communications. He will also oversee the collaboration among the international public relations teams in the United Kingdom, Australia and throughout Asia.

Princess Appoints New Vice President of Public Relations“Brian brings more than 15 years of experience in strategic planning and creative campaign development to this integral role for Princess Cruises,” said Gordon Ho, senior vice president of global marketing and North America sales. “Princess will benefit from his leadership and his track record of developing and executing high-profile initiatives that will shape the narrative of our global brand and increase awareness among key audiences including media, retailers, consumers and employees,” added Ho.

O’Connor joined the company in 2006 as director, public relations for Cunard Line elevating awareness for the brand in North America through such high-profile initiatives as Queen Mary 2 appearing in the premier episode of the hit series Mighty Ships created by Discovery Channel, the Britannia Ball gala fundraiser for the New York City Opera and the first performances by James Taylor and his band on a transatlantic crossing. He’s supported the launch of Queen Victoria with press events by partnering with NYC & Company and staging the first three Queens Cunard Royal Rendezvous in New York in 2008. He was promoted to director, marketing and public relations in 2009 and supported the launch of Queen Elizabeth in 2010.

In 2012, O’Connor was appointed vice president, North America sales, responsible for leading the field sales team representing both Princess and Cunard. He is credited with strengthening trade relations and growing distribution with North America retail partners. As he transitions from sales he will complete his service as chairman of the CLIA Trade Relations Committee. Interviews to identify his successor are underway.

Prior to joining Cunard, O’Connor served as director of public relations at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, where he was accountable for publicity and media relations for more than 125 events annually ranging from red carpet charity galas and political fundraisers to numerous award shows including The Golden Globe Awards.

In addition to positions held at Princess and Cunard, O’Connor is a past president and five term board member of the Public Relations Society of America – Los Angeles Chapter (PRSA-LA). He is also a graduate of the Protocol School of Washington’s protocol officer training and certification and is a member of Protocol Diplomacy International – Protocol Officers Association (PDI-POA).

O’Connor is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Communication Arts & Sciences.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 47.83 + 0.15%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 79.99 - 2.81%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.85 + 2.15%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 53.78 - 0.20%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which famous former liner served as James Bond's headquarters in the film "The Man with the Golden Gun"?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which famous French liner caught fire in April 1939 while tied up at her pier and capsized the next morning from having too much water poured onto her upper decks?

Answer - This liner was the PARIS. She burned in the port of LE HAVRE and wreck stayed 10 years on place because of war, and was scraped on place.
courtesy of Fernando Molina, Seville, Spain.


Cruise News - April 6, 2015

Royal Caribbean Announces Godmother for Anthem of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International today announced that travel agent Emma Wilby, 27, from Sunderland, U.K., is the Godmother for the world’s newest and most advanced cruise ship Anthem of the Seas. Upholding a timeless maritime tradition, Ms. Wilby will officially christen Anthem of the Seas and perform a special song for more than 1,300 invited special guests and dignitaries at the ship’s inaugural ceremony in Southampton, U.K., on April 20, 2015. Designed to revolutionize the industry, Anthem of the Seas will sail its inaugural season from Southampton before the ship repositions to its permanent homeport of New York in November.

Royal Caribbean announced that Emma Wilby is the Godmother for Anthem of the Seas“We are delighted to welcome Emma Wilby into the Royal Caribbean family as Anthem of the Seas’ Godmother,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “Emma is among many submissions from truly talented travel agents across the U.K. and the judging was very difficult. We thank all travel agents, who we value and are honoring by naming a fellow travel agent as the Godmother of our newest ship.”

In addition to being a travel agent for Thomson, Ms. Wilby is a military wife and budding singer who performs in the Military Wives Choir in Kinloss, Scotland, where she is based with her husband, a Royal Engineer for the British Army. To help her prepare for inaugural day, Craig Yates, Team Captain from British choir group Only Boys Aloud will be Ms. Wilby’s vocal coach, and Royal Caribbean is treating her to a full makeover.

“Emma’s inaugural song will herald in a ship that will be a new anthem for the cruise industry,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. “I am very much looking forward to Emma’s performance and launching Anthem of the Seas with her. I know she will be simply spectacular.”

The Godmother role is a lifetime title bestowed upon an individual, who figuratively presides over the ship and imparts good luck and divine protection over the vessel and all that sail aboard. Traditionally, Godmothers have celebrity status or even royal connections, such as Royal Caribbean Godmothers Gloria Estefan, Jane Seymour, Whoopi Goldberg and Steffi Graf, to name a few.

“I still can’t believe I won,” said Ms. Wilby after being informed of her new title earlier this week. “I am really honored to have been chosen. I am hugely excited to be taking on the role of Godmother for Anthem of the Seas – it will be incredible to sing in front of all these people and a real honor to give the ship the best sendoff possible.”

HAL's ms Koningsdam to Homeport at Port Everglades Following Inaugural Europe Season
Following its inaugural Europe season in 2016, Holland America Line's new ms Koningsdam will homeport at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The ship will sail a series of Caribbean voyages and one cruise to the Bahamas from November 2016 through March 2017. Koningsdam's Caribbean itineraries will be available for booking in late spring.

The seven-day cruises visit popular ports in the region, while the longer nine-, 10- and 11-day itineraries provide more time for exploring and include a diverse array of islands with exciting, off-the-beaten-path calls. A four-day cruise to the Bahamas kicks off the Caribbean season. All voyages are roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale.

HAL's ms Koningsdam to Homeport at Port Everglades Following Inaugural Europe Season"We are excited to sail Holland America Line's newest ship from Port Everglades on the most varied and robust Caribbean itineraries of any of our ships," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "The Caribbean remains among the most popular cruise destinations in the world, and by having itineraries that range from four to 11 days guests will be able to enjoy a vacation that fits their schedule."

Four-day Bahamas Cruise - Koningsdam begins its inaugural season in the Caribbean with a four-day cruise to the Bahamas departing Nov. 9, 2016. Following an overnight in Fort Lauderdale, the ship calls at Nassau followed by Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line's award-winning private island. The voyage is the perfect way to sample Holland America Line's new Pinnacle-class ship.

Seven-day Caribbean Cruises & Holiday Sailing - Two different seven-day itineraries provide an ideal getaway in winter, when the balmy breezes of the Caribbean beckon. The first itinerary sails Jan. 8 and 29 and Feb. 12, 2017, calling at Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Half Moon Cay. The second itinerary departs Jan. 15 and Feb. 5, 2017, and visits Half Moon Cay; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico; and Key West, Fla. The two itineraries can be combined to create a nonrepeating 14-day Caribbean Collectors' Voyage.

For the holidays, the Dec. 23, 2016, departure falls over Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, making it the most festive of voyages. The seven-day cruise will visit Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay.

Nine-day Caribbean Cruises Include a New Year's Option - Guests looking for a slightly longer Caribbean vacation can embark Dec. 14, 2016, for a nine-day voyage that showcases six popular ports. The ship calls at Half Moon Cay; Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Basseterre, St. Kitts; San Juan; and Grand Turk.

Another nine-day voyage departing Dec. 30 rings in the New Year with fun, sun, sand and surf. The ship will call at Falmouth, Jamaica; Half Moon Cay; Grand Turk; Georgetown, Cayman Islands; Cozumel and Key West.

10-day Caribbean Cruises Feature Southern Caribbean - From the turquoise waters of the Dominican Republic to the powdery beaches of the ABC Islands, Koningsdam's 10-day itinerary highlights some of the most beautiful ports in the region. Departing Nov. 13 and Dec. 4, 2015, and Feb. 19 and March 12, 2016, the cruises call at Half Moon Cay; Grand Turk; the exclusive cruise port of Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; Kralendijk, Bonaire; Willemstand, Curacao; and Oranjestad, Aruba.

11-day Caribbean Cruises Offer Blend of Several Ports - The eastern Caribbean takes center stage on the 11-day voyages that depart Nov. 23, 2016, and March 1 and 22, 2017. Koningsdam will visit the ports of Philipsburg; Castries, St. Lucia; Bridgetown, Barbados; Fort-de-France, Martinique; Basseterre; St. Thomas; and Half Moon Cay. Guests aboard also will enjoy scenic cruising in Soufriere Bay and past the famed Mount Pelee volcano.

Cunard Unveils 2016 Itineraries
This week, Cunard announces its 2016 main program of cruises, where between May and December the fleet will travel over 205,000 nautical miles visiting incredible places across Europe and around the World. Between them Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth will call at 100 destinations in 34 different countries, including five maiden calls. Each cruise, whether it’s a three-night short break or a 24- night Caribbean round trip will deliver luxury on a grand scale for all those on board.

Program Highlights:
• Five maiden calls for the fleet: Gaspe (Canada), Genoa (Italy), Pointe-a-Pitre (Guadeloupe), Saguenay (Canada) and Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides. Top 10 destinations in 2016: Boston, (USA), Cagliari (Italy), Flaam (Norway), Monte Carlo (Monaco), Mykonos (Greece), Philipsburg (Saint Maarten), Quebec (Canada), St Petersburg (Russia), Tallinn (Estonia) and Venice (Italy).
• 10 overnight calls in spectacular destinations: Amsterdam (Netherlands), Barcelona (Spain), Istanbul (Turkey), Madeira (Portugal), Geiranger (Norway), Quebec (Canada), Reykjavik (Iceland), Boston, (USA), St Petersburg (Russia) and Venice (Italy).
• 14 Evenings in port (ship departs 2100 hours or later): Barcelona (Spain), Bergen (Norway), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Invergordon (UK), Kotor (Montenegro), Kusadasi (Turkey), Madeira (Portugal), Monte Carlo (Monaco), Mykonos (Greece), Istanbul (Turkey), Tenerife (Spain), Trieste (Italy) and Valencia (Spain).
• Verona Opera event cruises: In 2016 the Mediterranean Fly program provides an opportunity for passengers to attend the Arena di Verona Opera festival. It is a summer festival of opera located in the city of Verona, Italy. Large-scale opera performances are given in an ancient Roman amphitheatre, which was capable of holding 30,000 spectators. Performances traditionally begin at dusk and spectators are given small candles to light as darkness falls and the performances begin, creating a unique and truly unforgettable atmosphere. There are three opportunities where an overnight stay in Venice will allow passengers to take an evening tour to Verona and these can be taken on seven-, 14 and 21-night sailings.

Cunard Unveils 2016 ItinerariesAccording to Angus Struthers, Cunard Director, “Cunard’s 2016 main program offers incredible richness and variety, with itineraries that appeal to all. From three-night short European breaks to more exotic 24- night Caribbean cruises, with cruises departing from the comfort of our home port, Southampton, to fly cruising in the Mediterranean, all on board our iconic three ship fleet.

"And, of course, our flagship, Queen Mary 2, as the world’s greatest liner, will continue to provide an experience that is truly unique in travel – our Transatlantic Crossings to or from New York."

“Research has shown that it is important to strike the right balance between port days and sea days on any cruise. This is even more important on a Cunard cruise because the ships are a destination in themselves. The 2016 itineraries have been designed to offer plenty of time on board for passengers to relax and experience all the ships have to offer.

“All Cunard cruises in 2016 have a sea day on the first day of the voyage so that passengers can settle in and familiarize themselves with the ship; the majority of the cruises also have a sea day on the day before disembarkation to allow passengers time to relax and pack before leaving.

“The destinations visited are one of the main reasons why people choose to take a cruise. The most iconic destinations all share qualities exemplified by Cunard such as history, glamour, romance and renown. Our 2016 cruises focus on our top-rated ports, which continually receive the highest scores for customer satisfaction, and passengers can visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Pier Head in our ‘spiritual’ home in Liverpool where the magnificent Cunard Building stands. The Building celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2016 and we’re delighted Queen Elizabeth will be calling at Liverpool to salute this icon”.

Transatlantic Crossings

A Transatlantic Crossing on Queen Mary 2 is to many the ultimate Cunard experience, the most luxurious way to travel between the Old and New Worlds. Cunard’s Transatlantic Crossings are unique in being the only regular Transatlantic service and the world’s only remaining true ocean liner experience. Queen Mary 2 will make 19 Atlantic between Southampton and New York or vice versa, from May to December 2016, split into three main voyage types:


• Standard crossings in seven-nights
• Crossings in eight-nights
• Crossings in eight-nights calling at Halifax which has historical significance for Cunard as it is the birthplace of the company founder Samuel Cunard and was one of the main way ports on the historic early Transatlantic Crossings.

Transatlantic crossings include one-way flight, flight from / to New York, transfers between the ship and the airport and on board spending money of between $50 - $195 per person.

In 2016, Queen Victoria will be operating a pair of Transatlantic Crossings for the first time ever. These voyages will have a duration of nine-nights and each will feature either Halifax or Cobh as an additional port of call:


• V605 – Transatlantic West, departing Southampton 22 May 2016, calling at Halifax, Nova Scotia en route to New York.
• V606 – Transatlantic East departing 31 May 2016, calling at Cobh, Ireland en route to Southampton.

Cunard Unveils 2016 ItinerariesMediterranean fly cruises

Queen Victoria will operate an exciting series of Mediterranean holidays from July to November offering:
• Seven-, 14- or 21-night holidays
• The “best of the Med” destinations, covering the Western, Central and Eastern Mediterranean regions
• 26 different ports
• A choice of four different embarkation ports - Rome, Venice, Athens, and Barcelona
• Overnight stays in Venice, Istanbul and Barcelona
• Late evening departures in Barcelona, Dubrovnik, Istanbul, Kotor, Monte Carlo, Mykonos, Naples, Trieste and Valencia.

Queen Victoria’s 14-night ‘Venice, Greek Islands and Istanbul’ cruise departs Venice on 22 August and calls at Korcula, Crete, Rhodes, Kusadasi, Piraeus and Mykonos and includes a sail by Anzac Cove and transits of the Dardanelles.

Round trip Southampton cruises

A range of ex-Southampton cruises are available from May to December. Queen Elizabeth will operate regular ex-UK voyages while Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 offer selected departures during the year.


• 28 round trip Southampton cruises offered by all three ships
• More variety with cruises to the Mediterranean, Atlantic Islands, Western Europe, Northern Europe and Caribbean
• Two Western Mediterranean cruises
• Two Adriatic cruises
• Two Greek Islands cruises
• Six Canary Islands cruises
• Two Baltic cruises
• Five Western Europe short breaks
• Two Norway Fjords cruises
• Arctic Circle cruise
• British Isles cruise
• Iceland cruise
• Caribbean cruise
• A range of cruise durations; cruises range from three-night Western Europe Cruise Breaks to a 24-night Caribbean cruise
• Seven overnight stays in Barcelona, St Petersburg, Madeira, Reykjavik and Amsterdam
• Seven evening departures in Madeira, Bergen, Invergordon, Kusadasi and Tenerife
• Queen Elizabeth departs Southampton on her 12-night British Isles cruise on 23 June and calls at South Queensferry, Invergordon, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Greenock, Belfast, Liverpool and St Peter Port.

Princess Cruises Unveils 2016 Japan Cruise Program
Carnival Corporation & plc announced today that its Princess Cruises brand, the top North American cruise line in Japan, will offer an array of Japan voyages from Tokyo and Kobe in 2016 that circumnavigate the country, visiting the top-rated ports with two new ports of call on the island of Kyushu, along with visits to Korea, Taiwan and Russia. The voyages are designed to offer opportunities to explore the wonders of UNESCO World Heritage sites and to participate in some of Japan’s largest and most celebrated cultural festivals and special events. In addition, new Land and Sea Vacation packages will take travelers into the heart of Japanese culture in Kyoto and Tokyo.

Princess Cruises Unveils 2016 Japan Cruise ProgramThe variety of voyages offered on Diamond Princess, ranging from four to 20 nights, include the whole of Japan on Circle Japan voyages; northern Japan on Circle Hokkaido Island voyages, with a visit to Korsakov, Russia; and southern Japan on Kyushu Island voyages featuring maiden ports of call in the beautiful southern beach port of Miyazaki and the famous castle ruins of Yatushiro, and voyages to Taiwan and the Ryukyu Islands. Grand Japan voyages ranging from 14- to 20- nights offer the greatest variety of ports and experiences; while four- and five-night getaway cruises provide a sampling of some of Japan’s not-to-be-missed destination highlights.

Princess Cruises’ 2016 Japan season runs from April to October, the only full season of voyages offered by a North American cruise line in Japan, and bookings for the new itineraries open to the public on April 16, 2015. More details can be found at princess.com.

“Japan is steeped in tradition and lore, with ancient sites, hallowed temples and natural wonders throughout the island chain. The ideal way to explore this fascinating country is by sea and Princess offers travelers unmatched options for discovering its many jewels,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “We visit the top-rated ports, provide local cultural entertainment and culinary experiences onboard and offer bi-lingual service to make it easy and memorable for our guests to explore all that Japan offers. We’ve been recognized as the top cruise line in Asia with the best itineraries and our 2016 voyages more than live up to this billing.”

The new Princess Cruises itineraries take guests to a wide variety of culturally significant sites listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) including some of the world’s greatest attractions such as Ancient Kyoto, Okinawa's Shurijo Castle and the majestic Shirakami Mountains from Aomori. Other bucket list jewels include the revered 7th Century Bulguska Temple in the Korean capital of Gyeong-Ju and remote historic villages in central Japan. All Hokkaido Island cruises feature the Shiretoko Peninsula, one of the world’s richest eco-systems and one of the few places in the world where multiple species of whales, dolphins and porpoises can be spotted, among many more.

Spectacular summer festivals and fireworks displays are the highlight of many summer cruises ranging from seven- to 11-night itineraries. These sailings include late evening departures from ports to allow guests time to participate in vividly colored lantern processionals, parades of giant floats, dance festivals and spectacular fireworks displays like the famous Toyohashi Fire Festival in Nagoya and the Kagoshima Summer Night Fireworks with an active volcano as the backdrop.

Guests on next year’s July 25 and August 4 voyages will experience the Nebuta Festival, Japan’s most extravagant display of brilliantly-colored floats, musicians and dancers. Sailings on August 15, 24 and September 9 of 2016 feature some of Japan’s largest and most spectacular fireworks festivals.

To further enhance the cruise line’s Japanese vacations, Princess Cruises will offer multi-day land tour package options, available for add-on with most cruises, to explore Kyoto and Tokyo. Kyoto tours will include sightseeing at Nijo Castle, the famed Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), and popular Japanese gardens. Tokyo tours explore this fascinating city before heading out to Mt. Fuji, Togendai and Lake Ashi.

While Diamond Princess features the cruise line’s signature innovations including its popular Movies Under the Stars poolside theater and The Sanctuary, an exclusive top-deck retreat, it also offers many unique features designed to enhance the Japanese cultural experience onboard including:


• Traditional Izumi Japanese Bath – the largest of its kind at sea and modeled after the popular Japanese onsen experience
• Kai Sushi restaurant – boasting made-to-order sushi and a full selection of Japanese sake
• Noodle stations – serving up a rotating selection of ramen, soba and udon noodles
• Tamagoyaki - a traditional Japanese omelet available daily for breakfast
• Unique Japanese entertainment offerings such as “rakugo” storytelling performances and origami classes
• Unparalleled luxury brand duty-free shopping

In addition, dining room menus offer a wide variety of international cuisine including Japanese options on all menus and onboard collateral items and stateroom information is available in both English and Japanese

Disney Magic to Feature "Tangled: The Musical" Stage Show
In November 2015, the endearing characters and captivating music of the animated film "Tangled" will enchant audiences once again, this time as an original stage show spectacular at sea aboard the Disney Magic—the first time the beloved Disney tale has been adapted for the stage.

"Tangled: The Musical" will immerse audiences in Rapunzel's fairytale world through lavish production numbers and spellbinding music. Three new songs created exclusively for this show by Academy Award-winning composer Alan Menken and Grammy Award-winning lyricist Glenn Slater will bring the story to life onstage.

Disney Magic to Feature The show will stay true to the storyline from the hit feature film—with a few special twists to create a live staged production—featuring favorite characters like Rapunzel, Flynn Rider, the villainous Mother Gothel and Maximus the police horse.

The story follows the thrilling adventure of Rapunzel as she escapes the confines of her tower and the clutches of Mother Gothel, who wishes to shield the secret of Rapunzel's magical golden tresses and royal roots. Rapunzel strikes up an unlikely friendship with the suave, crown-stealing bandit Flynn Rider, and together they face ruffians, thugs and a budding romance on a hair-raising journey filled with classic Disney playfulness and whimsy that will delight audiences of all ages.

Acclaimed composer Alan Menken ("The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast") and lyricist Glenn Slater, the prolific pair behind the original soundtrack for "Tangled," teamed up again to adapt the score and story for the stage. Complementing the score from the film, three new songs weave a delightful combination of narrative, humor and theatrics into the performance.

In addition to new melodies, audiences will enjoy live performances of favorite songs from the movie, including "When Will My Life Begin," "Mother Knows Best," "I Have a Dream" and the Grammy Award-winning ballad, "I See the Light."

Elaborate costumes, groundbreaking puppetry and stunning set designs transform the 977-seat Walt Disney Theatre into a fanciful Bavarian kingdom, immersing audiences in Rapunzel's world and making them feel a part of her story. Disney assembled an all-star creative team to develop this extravagant production, with director Gordon Greenberg and choreographer Connor Gallagher joining Menken, Slater and a bevy of top-notch theatrical talent.

Master puppet designer Michael Curry, whose extraordinary creations are featured in Disney's Tony Award-winning musical "The Lion King" on Broadway, is breeding a brand-new pedigree of puppetry in Maximus, the rambunctious police horse whose exaggerated demeanor becomes even more hilarious with the addition of the whinnying puppet performer within. This cleverly constructed character is sure to be the "mane" attraction of every scene he steals.

Dazzling costumes created by Tony Award-winning designer Paloma Young will bring the flair and vibrancy of the animated world to life onstage in "Tangled: The Musical." The townspeople's bright hues and Rapunzel's feminine florals are perfectly balanced by the bristly browns of the rugged thugs and royal regalia of the kingdom officials, creating a sensational fusion of colors, patterns and textures.

Remarkable set designs by scenic designer Bradley Kaye (Disney's "Aladdin—A Musical Spectacular") will transport audiences to storybook locales that include Rapunzel's tower home, the outlandish Snuggly Duckling tavern, a brightly adorned kingdom town and the resplendent lakeside setting of the iconic floating lanterns scene from the film.

"Tangled: The Musical" complements the line-up of Disney Cruise Line-exclusive live entertainment performed every voyage aboard the Disney Magic, joining "Twice Charmed: An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story" and "Disney Dreams… An Enchanted Classic," which will feature a new segment from the blockbuster animated hit "Frozen" beginning in summer 2015.

"Tangled: The Musical" will premiere during the Nov. 11 four-night Bahamian sailing aboard the Disney Magic. The Disney Magic will sail four-night Bahamas and five-night Western Caribbean cruises from Miami beginning Sept. 30 through the new year.

People in the News
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced today that Bernard Aronson, a director of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. since 1993, has decided not to stand for re-election at the company's upcoming Annual Shareholders Meeting in May, citing the time commitments required of his new responsibilities. In February 2015, Aronson was named by President Obama as U.S. Special Envoy to the Colombian Peace Process.

"Serving on the Royal Caribbean board has been a privilege and a joy," said Aronson. "The culture of a company is its most valuable asset, and I know that the culture of excellence, service and 'wow' that Royal Caribbean embodies will continue under the board's leadership."

Aronson is Royal Caribbean's longest-serving outside director, and is a member of the Compensation Committee. He also serves as the Founding Partner of ACON Investments, LLC. From 1989 to 1993, Aronson served as Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs.

"Bernie has been an invaluable member of the board, and has a tremendous understanding of our company," said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "I want to thank him for the significant contributions he has made over the past 20 years. His advice and guidance will be missed and I wish him success in his new government assignment."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 47.76 + 0.08%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 82.30 + 1.92%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.79 - 2.11%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 53.59 + 1.14%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which famous French liner caught fire in April 1939 while tied up at her pier and capsized the next morning from having too much water poured onto her upper decks?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Name the two New York-based ships that were known as the "Honeymoon Ships" during the 1940's and 1950's.

Answer - Dhe liners RMS Queen of Bermuda and RMS Ocean Monarch were nicknamed the Honeymoon Ships during the 1940s and 1950s because the number of honeymooners which travelled onboard them.
courtesy of Fernando Molina, Seville, Spain.


Cruise News - March 30, 2015

Viking Ocean Cruises Celebrates Delivery Of First Ocean Ship
Viking Ocean Cruises today announced it took delivery of Viking Star, marking the company's official arrival into the ocean cruise industry. The delivery ceremony took place on March 28 when the ship was presented at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard outside of Venice, Italy. On April 11, Viking Star will set sail from Istanbul and will make her way through the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic on her way to be officially christened on May 17 in Bergen, Norway.

Viking Ocean Cruises Celebrates Delivery Of First Ocean Ship"This has been a remarkable journey, and I am grateful to everyone at Viking and Fincantieri who has worked tirelessly to turn our vision into reality," said Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking Cruises. "With Viking Star's maiden voyage and christening now within sight, we are ready to bring our destination-focused experiences to ocean cruising."

Classified by Cruise Critic as a "small ship," the all-veranda Viking Star has a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, boasts 465 cabins and will accommodate 930 passengers. It is engineered at a scale that allows direct access into most ports, so guests have an easy and efficient embarkation and debarkation. Light-filled with modern Scandinavian decor, the ship was designed by experienced nautical architects and engineers, including the same interior design team responsible for the award-winning fleet of Viking Longships®. Viking Star is one of three ocean cruise ships on order; the remaining two ships, Viking Sea and Viking Sky, are currently under construction.

Viking Ocean Cruises guests will enjoy curated itineraries that are designed to best showcase the destinations that they visit, with a complimentary excursion in each port and an onboard cultural enrichment program that includes academic lecturers, local speakers and interactive demonstrations.

Carnival Corporation Enters into Strategic Partnerships to Add Nine Cruise Ships to its Fleet over a Four-Year Period Starting in 2019/Spring 2017
Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest travel and leisure company, today signed two strategic memorandums of agreement that will add a total of nine new cruise ships to the company's industry-leading fleet over a four-year period from 2019 - 2022. The shipbuilding agreements, which include options for additional ship builds in the coming years, are subject to several conditions, including satisfactory financing.

Carnival Corporation Enters into Strategic Partnerships to Add Nine Cruise Ships to its Fleet over a Four-Year PeriodItalian shipbuilder Fincantieri S.p.A and German shipbuilder Meyer Werft will each build new ships based on Carnival Corporation's next-generation ship designs, which will produce the most efficient ships in the company's history. The new ships are expected to serve established cruise markets in North America and Europe, as well as newer markets, including China. Each new ship will be specifically designed and developed for the brand and guests it will serve, and support the company's overall goal of exceeding guest expectations and further elevating every aspect of the guest experience.

"We're excited to take this next step in our fleet enhancement plan with these two new agreements that are consistent with our long-term strategy of measured capacity growth over time," said Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation. "Our goal as a company is to exceed the expectations of every guest on every ship every day, and these new ships will further enable us to do just that. These will be the most efficient ships we have ever built and the great guest experience will create even more excitement around cruising – helping new cruisers realize the superior vacation experience and value that cruising offers versus land-based vacations."

Fincantieri, the world's largest cruise ship building company, will develop and construct five ships at its shipyards in Monfalcone and Marghera, Italy.

"I am extremely proud on this truly memorable day for us. Today's announcement provides us with a long-term strategic prospective, and reinforces the extraordinary partnership between us and Carnival Corporation, developed over time thanks to the confidence the group has always shown in us, which we assure will be once again well placed," said Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri. "This agreement reflects the exceptional business vision of the world's most important cruise operator, and our readiness and flexibility in interpreting its demands."

Bono added, "This agreement is the best reward for our hard work over all these years, and in fact, our organizational, design and production skills have allowed us to consolidate our market leadership, confirming us at the top of such an exclusive and complex industry."

Meyer Werft, a leading global shipbuilder founded in Germany in 1795, will build its four ships at its shipyards in Papenburg, Germany, and Turku, Finland. Now in its seventh generation of family ownership, Meyer Werft has become well known for constructing large, modern and sophisticated cruise ships, including 39 luxury ships the company has built for its customers around the world.

Bernard Meyer, managing partner of Meyer Werft, said, "We are very happy and honored that Carnival Corporation trusts our strength to bring this ambitious newbuilding program to life in Turku and Papenburg."

As part of each company's long-term strategic partnership with Carnival Corporation, additional new ship orders are being explored over the coming decade.

Additional information on Carnival Corporation's cruise ship design, and which of the company's nine leading global brands will add these next-generation vessels to their fleets will be made available at a later date.

Carnival Corporation's fleet enhancement strategy will add two new ships to its fleet in 2015 and remove four ships from the fleet. P&O Cruises UK officially launched Britannia, the largest ship ever designed exclusively for Britain, in a majestic naming ceremony earlier this month. Later this year, the AIDA Cruises fleet will welcome AIDAprima, which is expected to be one of the most technically advanced and sustainable cruise ships ever built.

In addition to these new ships, Carnival Corporation continues to enhance its guest experience on existing ships. The overall fleet enhancement strategy combines new ship builds with an ongoing program to further elevate guest experience across the company's existing fleet and nine brands.

Holland America Line's new ms Koningsdam to Homeport at Port Everglades for Winter 2016/Spring 2017
Following its inaugural Europe season in 2016, Holland America Line's new ms Koningsdam will homeport at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The ship will sail a series of Caribbean voyages and one cruise to the Bahamas from November 2016 through March 2017. Koningsdam's Caribbean itineraries will be available for booking in late spring.

Holland America Line's new ms Koningsdam to Homeport at Port Everglades for Winter 2016/Spring 2017The seven-day cruises visit popular ports in the region, while the longer nine-, 10- and 11-day itineraries provide more time for exploring and include a diverse array of islands with exciting, off-the-beaten-path calls. A four-day cruise to the Bahamas kicks off the Caribbean season. All voyages are roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale.

"We are excited to sail Holland America Line's newest ship from Port Everglades on the most varied and robust Caribbean itineraries of any of our ships," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "The Caribbean remains among the most popular cruise destinations in the world, and by having itineraries that range from four to 11 days guests will be able to enjoy a vacation that fits their schedule."

Four-day Bahamas Cruise - Koningsdam begins its inaugural season in the Caribbean with a four-day cruise to the Bahamas departing Nov. 9, 2016. Following an overnight in Fort Lauderdale, the ship calls at Nassau followed by Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line's award-winning private island. The voyage is the perfect way to sample Holland America Line's new Pinnacle-class ship.

Seven-day Caribbean Cruises & Holiday Sailing - Two different seven-day itineraries provide an ideal getaway in winter, when the balmy breezes of the Caribbean beckon. The first itinerary sails Jan. 8 and 29 and Feb. 12, 2017, calling at Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Half Moon Cay. The second itinerary departs Jan. 15 and Feb. 5, 2017, and visits Half Moon Cay; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico; and Key West, Fla. The two itineraries can be combined to create a nonrepeating 14-day Caribbean Collectors' Voyage.

For the holidays, the Dec. 23, 2016, departure falls over Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, making it the most festive of voyages. The seven-day cruise will visit Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay.

Nine-day Caribbean Cruises Include a New Year's Option - Guests looking for a slightly longer Caribbean vacation can embark Dec. 14, 2016, for a nine-day voyage that showcases six popular ports. The ship calls at Half Moon Cay; Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Basseterre, St. Kitts; San Juan; and Grand Turk.

Another nine-day voyage departing Dec. 30 rings in the New Year with fun, sun, sand and surf. The ship will call at Falmouth, Jamaica; Half Moon Cay; Grand Turk; Georgetown, Cayman Islands; Cozumel and Key West.

10-day Caribbean Cruises Feature Southern Caribbean - From the turquoise waters of the Dominican Republic to the powdery beaches of the ABC Islands, Koningsdam's 10-day itinerary highlights some of the most beautiful ports in the region. Departing Nov. 13 and Dec. 4, 2015, and Feb. 19 and March 12, 2016, the cruises call at Half Moon Cay; Grand Turk; the exclusive cruise port of Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; Kralendijk, Bonaire; Willemstand, Curacao; and Oranjestad, Aruba.

11-day Caribbean Cruises Offer Blend of Several Ports - The eastern Caribbean takes center stage on the 11-day voyages that depart Nov. 23, 2016, and March 1 and 22, 2017. Koningsdam will visit the ports of Philipsburg; Castries, St. Lucia; Bridgetown, Barbados; Fort-de-France, Martinique; Basseterre; St. Thomas; and Half Moon Cay. Guests aboard also will enjoy scenic cruising in Soufriere Bay and past the famed Mount Pelee volcano.

Carnival Pride Returns to Port of Baltimore
Carnival Cruise Line returned to the Port of Baltimore and launched a year-round cruise program yesterday when the Carnival Pride departed on a seven-day cruise to the Bahamas from the Cruise Maryland Terminal.

Carnival Pride's year-round schedule from Baltimore encompasses a wide range of departures, from five-day Bermuda cruises to seven- to 14-day voyages visiting top destinations in the Caribbean, The Bahamas and Florida.

Carnival Pride Returns to Port of Baltimore"We are thrilled to be returning to the Port of Baltimore which is such a fantastic cruise departure point for people in the mid-Atlantic states, the Northeast and beyond," said Christine Duffy, Carnival president. "Carnival Pride has just undergone a massive enhancement program that added a variety of great new features which, when combined with the wide range of itinerary options, makes the ship an excellent vacation choice for consumers and a great selling opportunity for our valued travel agent partners," she added.

"Maryland values our long-standing relationship with Carnival and we are delighted to welcome the Carnival Pride back to her home port at the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore," said Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn. "Governor Hogan is focused on building Maryland's reputation as a place that's open for business, and today we are pleased that the Carnival Pride is once again open for business in Baltimore."

Carnival Pride recently underwent an extensive multi-million-dollar dry dock that added a variety of the line's Fun Ship 2.0 innovations, including new dining venues such as Guy's Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina and Bonsai Sushi, exciting bar concepts like Alchemy Bar, RedFrog Pub and the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar, as well as new entertainment choices like Hasbro, The Game Show; Seuss at Sea and Playlist Productions. A massive WaterWorks water park featuring Green Thunder, the fastest and steepest waterslide at sea, was added, as well.

Carnival Pride's five-day Bermuda sailings feature two days and one night at King's Wharf with two fun days at sea. Six-day Bahamas cruises call at the popular ports of Nassau and Freeport, while the seven-day Bahamas itinerary also includes a call at Port Canaveral, Fla., with easy access to Orlando's attractions.

Seven- and eight-day eastern Caribbean cruises feature Grand Turk, the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay, and Freeport. Eight-day Bahamas sailings visit Charleston, S.C.; Port Canaveral and Nassau.

For those who prefer more immersive, longer length cruises, Carnival Pride offers two Carnival Journeys adventures departing from Baltimore. An 11-day Carnival Journeys voyage departs Baltimore Jan. 17, 2016, calling at Grand Turk, Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, and St. Croix, ending in San Juan Jan. 28, 2016.

There is also a 14-day Carnival Journeys voyage, operating roundtrip from Baltimore March 13-27, 2016, and featuring Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas, Dominica, St. Lucia, Martinique, Antigua and St. Maarten.

Carnival Corporation & plc Reports Significantly Higher First Quarter Earnings
Carnival Corporation & plc announced non-GAAP net income of $159 million, or $0.20 diluted EPS, for the first quarter of 2015 compared to non-GAAP net loss for the first quarter of 2014 of $3 million, or $0.00 per share. For the first quarter of 2015, U.S. GAAP net income, which included unrealized losses on fuel derivatives of $112 million, was $49 million, or $0.06 diluted earnings per share. For the first quarter of 2014, U.S. GAAP net loss was $20 million, or $0.03 diluted loss per share. Revenues for the first quarter of 2015 were $3.5 billion compared to $3.6 billion in the prior year.

Carnival Corporation & plc Reports Significantly Higher First Quarter EarningsCarnival Corporation & plc President and Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald noted, "The year is off to a strong start achieving significantly higher earnings than the prior year and our previous guidance. Our onboard revenue initiatives drove particularly strong improvement in the first quarter with onboard yields more than 8 percent higher than prior year (constant dollar)." Donald also noted that the Carnival Cruise Line brand continued to outperform, achieving significant revenue yield growth and remains on track for a strong year. Additionally, Costa's Asia operations achieved double-digit revenue yield growth, affirming the pent-up demand in the region and building confidence in the long-term potential for growth.

Key metrics for the first quarter 2015 compared to first quarter 2014 were as follows:
• On a constant dollar basis, net revenue yields (net revenue per available lower berth day or "ALBD") increased 2.0 percent for 1Q 2015, which was better than the company's
• December guidance of flat to up 1 percent. Gross revenue yields decreased 3.1 percent in current dollars due to changes in currency exchange rates.
• Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD increased 2.4 percent in constant dollars primarily due to higher dry-dock costs and advertising expenses. Costs were lower than December guidance, up 5.5 to 6.5 percent, substantially all due to the timing of expenses between quarters. Gross cruise costs including fuel per ALBD in current dollars declined 9.6 percent due to changes in fuel prices and currency exchange rates.
• Fuel prices declined 38 percent to $406 per metric ton for 1Q 2015 from $654 per metric ton in 1Q 2014.
• Fuel consumption per ALBD decreased 3.7 percent in 1Q 2015 compared to the prior year.
• Changes in currency exchange rates reduced earnings by $0.06 per share (constant currency).

2015 Outlook

At this time, cumulative advance bookings for the remainder of 2015 are ahead of the prior year at higher prices. Since January, booking volumes for the remainder of the year are running in line with last year's historically high levels at higher prices.

Donald noted, "We are experiencing an ongoing improvement in underlying fundamentals based on our successful initiatives to drive demand. Our efforts to further elevate our guest experience are clearly resonating with consumers and, notably, improving the frequency and retention of our loyal guests." Donald added, "We are also seeing results from our ongoing public relations efforts and creative marketing campaign designed to attract new to cruise. Our multifaceted campaign built around the Super Bowl garnered 5 billion media impressions before the commercial aired and has exceeded 10 billion impressions to date." Donald also noted that the recent delivery of Britannia, the largest cruise ship built for Britain and christened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, drew international acclaim and showcased cruising on a global scale.

Based on current booking strength, Carnival said that it expects full year 2015 net revenue yields to increase 3 to 4 percent on a constant currency basis, which excludes translation and transactional currency impacts, compared to the prior year. This is one full point better than December guidance on a constant currency basis. On a constant dollar basis, which does not exclude the unfavorable transactional impact of currency, Carnival said that it still expects yields to be approximately 2 percent higher than the prior year. Carnival said that it expects net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD for full year 2015 to be up 2 to 3 percent compared to the prior year on a constant dollar basis, which is better than December guidance of up 3 percent, due primarily to the favorable transactional currency impact.

Since December, unfavorable changes in currency exchange rates (constant currency) have reduced full year 2015 earnings expectations by $219 million, or $0.28 per share. However, this impact has been significantly offset by the improvement in the company's operating performance, resulting in just a $0.05 reduction to the midpoint of December guidance.

Taking the above factors into consideration, Carnival said that it forecasts full year 2015 non-GAAP diluted earnings per share to be in the range of $2.30 to $2.50, compared to 2014 non-GAAP diluted earnings of $1.93 per share.

Looking forward, Donald stated, "Consistent with many global companies, the strengthening of the U.S. dollar has hampered our full year earnings expectations, masking the 3 to 4 percent (constant currency) yield increase our collective brands are expecting to achieve. Our successful initiatives to drive both ticket and onboard revenue yields have improved our financial performance and we remain on track toward our goal of achieving double-digit return on invested capital in the next three to four years."

Second Quarter 2015 Outlook

Second quarter constant dollar net revenue yields are expected to increase 2 to 3 percent compared to the prior year. Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD for the second quarter are expected to be up 6.5 to 7.5 percent on a constant dollar basis compared to the prior year. The increase is driven by higher annual dry-dock costs primarily all of which will be incurred in the second quarter. Changes in fuel prices net of fuel derivatives and currency exchange rates (constant currency) are expected to benefit second quarter earnings by $74 million compared to the prior year, or $0.09 per share.

Based on the above factors, Carnival said that it expects non-GAAP diluted earnings for the second quarter 2015 to be in the range of $0.11 to $0.15 per share versus 2014 non-GAAP earnings of $0.09 per share.

Princess and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment Take The Sound of Music Out to Sea
The seas are coming alive with the sound of music.

Beginning mid-April, Princess Cruises will partner with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment to screen the biggest movie musical of all time, The Sound of Music, onboard all 18 of its cruise ships and feature sing-a-longs, trivia games, and other movie-themed experiences throughout the year. The offerings celebrate the 50th anniversaries of both the cruise line and the musical and are part of a year-long campaign to honor the classic film.

Princess and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment Take The Sound of Music Out to SeaIn addition, Princess Cruises is offering movie fans chances to win a free cruise and a $500 onboard gift card every month through December 2015. More details about the themed onboard experiences and cruise giveaways are available at www.princesscruises.com/SoundofMusic.

A phenomenon upon its debut in 1965, The Sound of Music won five Academy Awards®, including "Best Picture" and continues to inspire audiences around the world with unforgettable songs including "Do-Re-Mi," "My Favorite Things," "Climb Every Mountain," and "The Sound of Music." Starring Oscar® winners Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, the film follows Maria (Andrews), the warm-hearted young woman who brings joy and music to Captain von Trapp (Plummer) and his seven children.

"The Sound of Music isn't just a classic film - watching the movie together is a classic family activity. In a year in which both Princess Cruises and The Sound of Music mark their golden anniversaries, this is truly a fun and memorable way to join in the celebrations," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president.

The Sound of Music will be shown once on every sailing throughout 2015 on Princess Cruises giant Movies Under the Stars top deck screens, with the sing-a-long version featured in the Princess Theater. Song birds can meet and rehearse for a special The Sound of Music edition of Princess Pop Choir and a themed Trivia Challenge will test fans' movie knowledge.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 47.72 + 3.60%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 80.75 + 3.05%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.85 + 3.26%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 53.28 + 1.24%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Name the two New York-based ships that were known as the "Honeymoon Ships" during the 1940's and 1950's.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
During the Queen Mary's last voyage in 1967, a 14,559 mile journey across the Atlantic and around South America, she carried two very large pieces of unusual cargo on her main deck - what were they?

Answer - During RMS Queen Mary's last cruise, she carried two red London buses at aft main deck. Some passengers told to their friends that they had made a voyage round Cape Horn in a London Bus.
courtesy of Jo Fermoga.


Cruise News - March 23, 2015

Holland America Line's new ms Koningsdam to Showcase 270-Degree Panoramic LED Screens
On Holland America Line's new ms Koningsdam, entertainment meets innovation with a new main theater design that surrounds the audience with a 270-degree LED screen. Breaking from the line's traditionally styled theaters, The World Stage is a flexible space that can have multiple stage configurations, ranging from in-the-round to the more conventional proscenium staging. The theater will initially host five new productions performed in repertory by a cast sourced from around the world.

Holland America Line's new ms Koningsdam to Showcase 270-Degree Panoramic LED ScreensAt two stories high and 250 feet long, the high-definition LED screens will make The World Stage a trend-setting theater at sea capable of showcasing an exciting array of performances and productions. Enhanced by state-of-the-art lighting, projection and sound systems, the screens enable the environment of The World Stage to change throughout the day to present anything the designers can imagine. For example, the room can evolve effortlessly from an Italian palazzo for a concert performance to an imaginary world for innovative production numbers.

"The World Stage on Koningsdam will enable us to debut new entertainment concepts to delight our guests with shows they've never seen before," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "Having the flexibility to configure the room into many different and vibrant settings enables us to set new heights for cruise entertainment in this extraordinary theater at sea."

Currently under construction at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard in Italy, Koningsdam represents a new Pinnacle Class of ship for Holland America Line. When it sets sail on its Premier Voyage April 8, 2016, the vessel will debut several innovative concepts and new public venues while still featuring popular amenities guests associate with Holland America Line.

Guests will have the opportunity to enjoy fine dining in several alternative restaurants including Sel de Mer, a new French seafood brasserie; a new immersive farm-to-table dinner experience in the Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine; a re-designed casual Lido Market with themed serving stations; a stunning main dining room; and favorites such as Pinnacle Grill, Canaletto Italian restaurant and pan-Asian Tamarind. The ship also will feature Holland America Line's first purpose-built staterooms for families as well as single staterooms among its 1,331 guest accommodations.

Entertainment is taken to a new level with the energetic Music Walk area featuring all genres of music showcased in venues including Lincoln Center Stage performing chamber music nightly; Billboard Onboard where live musicians rock the crowd with chart-topping hits; and the popular B.B. King's Blues Club in the Queen's Lounge bringing the best of Memphis music to sea. World Stage brings 270-degree LED projection to the main showroom, enabling new concepts for showtime performances and immersing the audience in a panorama of sight and sound.

Liberty of the Seas Passenger Goes Overboard
A 43 year-old Liberty of the Seas passenger was reported missing Sunday night at 9:45 p.m. and later discovered to have gone overboard from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship as it was returning to port.

Liberty of the Seas Passenger Goes OverboardA fellow passenger alerted crew members that he had seen a man go overboard on the final night of the 4-day Western Caribbean cruise from Port Everglades. According to the cruise line, surveillance video captured the man - Frank Slippo - climbing over the railing and going overboard from deck 12 while the ship was sailing 20 miles south of Marathon, Florida.

Once notified, the captain immediately turned the ship around to return to the location where he was reported missing and a search initiated.

The captain also alerted the U.S. Coast Guard which dispatched two MH-65 Dolphin helicopters from Miami and Clearwater. The USCG Cutter Cutter Charles Sexton was also dispatched to assist in the search and two Canadian Coast Guard ships that were already in the area participated. Once the Coast Guard assets were in place, Liberty of the Seas was released and allowed to continue on to Ft. Lauderdale.

The Coast Guard searched by air and sea an area of 5,000 nautical square miles over a 57-hour period. The Coast Guard called off the search Wednesday evening.

Royal Caribbean Deploying Ovation of the Seas To China
Furthering the cruise line’s commitment to growing the China vacation market, Royal Caribbean International today announced that Tianjin, China, will be the new home for its third Quantum-class ship, Ovation of the Seas. The news was given today by Royal Caribbean’s President and CEO, Michael Bayley, in a Beijing press conference of media, travel agents and officials. Launching in April 2016, Ovation of the Seas will be the cruise line’s fifth cruise ship based in the region.

“Cruising has become very popular for Chinese consumers and Royal Caribbean is already capturing their imaginations with our industry-leading cruise ships,” said Bayley. “We are furthering our commitment by bringing two of the world’s newest and most advanced Quantum-class cruise ships to the region. In addition, we are significantly expanding our investment in the training and employment of Chinese talent so they can join us in delivering our amazing and distinctive vacations to Chinese travelers.”

Royal Caribbean Deploying Ovation of the Seas To ChinaCurrently under construction, Ovation of the Seas will join Quantum of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas in the China seas. The five ships will comprise the largest fleet deployment for any cruise brand in China, homeporting in four metropolitan Chinese cities – Shanghai, Tianjin, Hong Kong and Xiamen – and primarily sailing three- to 12-night itineraries to destinations in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. Royal Caribbean’s summer 2016 Asia adventures will open for booking in August 2015.

In addition to committing ships to the region, Royal Caribbean is investing in people shoreside. The cruise line created a curriculum with the Tianjin Maritime College in August 2014 in order to attract, train and employ more Chinese talent. In the 13,000 sq. ft. school, students are instructed in the skills needed for a successful culinary or restaurant service career with Royal Caribbean. The cruise line has already hired more than 3,000 graduates and hopes to expand the program to accept more students and work with colleges in other Chinese cities.

Royal Caribbean also is exploring new ways to engage the Chinese economy and help create more Chinese jobs. The cruise line is investigating potential Chinese drydock facilities to revitalize Legend of the Seas as early as 2018; logistics centers in China to supply its ships deployed in the region; and an inbound-tourism business model to bring thousands of North American vacationers to experience China.

Once launched, Ovation of the Seas’ maiden sailings will include a 52-night Global Odyssey from Southampton, U.K. to Tianjin. Vacationers can be among the first to experience the new ship on the 2016 Ovation Global Odyssey, which will open for sale on Thursday, March 26, 2015. Five itineraries will take guests to some of the world’s most iconic cities:
• A seven-night England to Barcelona cruise, departing May 3, 2016 from Southampton
• 16-night Barcelona to Dubai cruise, via the Suez Canal, departing May 10
• 14-night India and Southeast Asia cruise, departing May 26 from Dubai to Singapore
• Three-night Malaysia cruise, departing June 9 on a roundtrip sailing from Singapore
• And 12-night Exotic Asia cruise, from Singapore to Tianjin.

Royal Caribbean is the leading and the most successful cruise line in China, shown by business growth, consumer and trade preference, and industry and consumer recognitions and awards. For its inaugural season, Ovation of the Seas will homeport in Tianjin – approximately 70 miles southeast of Beijing, while Quantum of the Seas will complete a full year of sailings from Shanghai. Mariner of the Seas will join Quantum of the Seas in Shanghai, while Voyager of the Seas will sail regularly from Hong Kong’s new Kai Tak Cruise Port. In addition to Japan and Korea itineraries, Voyager of the Seas will offer four- and five-night Taiwan and Vietnam cruises. For its part, Legend of the Seas will offer a set of sailings from Tianjin and then reposition to its new homeport of Xiamen for the remainder of the season.

“While China gets the newest Quantum Class, North America is getting the newest Oasis Class, Harmony of the Seas. There will be three Oasis-class ships sailing from two Florida ports starting in 2016, in addition to Anthem of the Seas from Cape Liberty, giving vacationers plenty of options for a truly memorable Royal Caribbean cruise.” added Bayley.

Norwegian Star Shines with New Dining, Entertainment Venues as Ship Readies for Europe Season
Norwegian Star Shines with New Dining, Entertainment Venues as Ship Readies for Europe Season Norwegian Star re-enters service with new 5 o'Clock Somewhere Bar, additional complimentary dining venue O'Sheehan's Neighborhood Bar & Grill and now complimentary Ginza Asian restaurant

Norwegian Cruise Line welcomed Norwegian Star back into service on March 17, 2015, following a two-week dry dock where the ship received numerous enhancements and new dining and entertainment venues as she readies for her busy summer season sailing the Baltic Capitals and Norwegian fjords from Copenhagen.

Norwegian Star Shines with New Dining, Entertainment Venues as Ship Readies for Europe SeasonAs a part of Norwegian Cruise Line's NEXT Program, bringing new enhancements and experiences to the cruise industry's youngest fleet*, Norwegian Star follows Norwegian Jewel as the third ship in the Norwegian fleet to receive updates since the program launched in 2014. Highlights of the ship's new features include two complimentary dining outlets, enhanced offerings in the popular Ginza Asian restaurant and Norwegian's first Five o'Clock Somewhere Bar.

"Our guests can dine like nowhere else at sea with Norwegian's Freestyle Dining and these exciting new venues on Norwegian Star make it even easier, more exciting and more fun for guests to enjoy the freedom and flexibility that only a Norwegian cruise can offer," said Andy Stuart, president and chief operating officer of Norwegian Cruise Line.

Parrotheads and patrons looking to escape and unwind can enjoy the fleet's first Five o'Clock Somewhere Bar, in an exclusive partnership with Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville®. The newest watering hole will serve up signature margaritas and "boat drinks" such as the "Who's to Blame® Margarita," ice cold LandShark Lagers and more, coupled with nightly live musical performances.

Norwegian Star's popular guest favorite Asian fusion restaurant, Ginza, can now be enjoyed on a complimentary basis, as the previous $15 cover charge has been eliminated. In addition to a full complimentary menu that now includes delicious dishes from a dedicated Noodle Bar such as traditional Chinese noodles, wok-fried specialties, and dim sum favorites, Ginza Asian Restaurant will now also feature exciting new à la carte offerings such as Japanese Hot Rock Ishiyaki for a nominal fee and a sushi menu developed by expert Sushi Chef Yuki Ieto. The new mouth-watering sushi and sashimi pieces such as the Sashimi Hamachi Poblano, Ten Shades of Grey Roll and more will be served at the restaurant's sushi bar or guests can also choose from four specialty rolls directly from a moving sushi belt, a first for the cruise industry.

Norwegian Star has also been retrofitted with the popular O'Sheehan's Neighborhood Bar & Grill, a 24-hour complimentary restaurant that serves up local traditional pub fare in a friendly neighborhood-pub setting. In addition, the ship's Moderno Churrascaria, the Brazilian-style steakhouse, was relocated to a more intimate setting on Deck 13 and Sugarcane Mojito Bar, first introduced on Norwegian Getaway, was added adjacent to the new restaurant.

A number of additional guest area enhancements included: updates to the Casino and Photo Gallery, new carpets and flooring throughout guest areas, window replacements, upgrades in galley areas and updates to the pool deck. Norwegian's innovative digital signage, first introduced on Norwegian Breakaway, has also been added to the ship. The interactive touch screen signs allow guests to order specialty items, get directions and reserve dining and shore excursions simply with a scan of their stateroom key, providing even more freedom and flexibility for guests to create their ideal vacation experience.

Technical modernizations also took place during the dry dock. The ship received an Azipod hydrodynamic upgrade and state-of-the-art silicone paint on the hull, in order to further improve fuel efficiency. Additional significant technical and safety updates include: lifeboat and tender boat release systems upgrade; thrusters and stabilizer maintenance; and ballast and bilge piping replacement.

Norwegian Star will spend her summer season sailing from Copenhagen with a number of seven to 14-day itineraries through the Baltic Capitals and Norwegian fjords. Norwegian Star's nine-day sailing through the Baltic Capitals will feature culture-rich exotic ports of call including Berlin, Germany; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; and Stockholm, Sweden.

Disney Cruise Line to Sail First British Isles Itinerary in 2016
In 2016, Disney Cruise Line is sailing its first British Isles itinerary, visiting Scotland, England, Ireland and France. Throughout the summer of 2016, Disney Cruise Line also will return to Norway, Iceland and ports of call in more than 15 European countries.

In addition to the tour of Europe with limited engagements in the Baltic, Norwegian Fjords, Iceland, British Isles, Greek Isles and the Mediterranean, Disney Cruise Line will revisit favorite destinations elsewhere around the globe including Alaska, the Caribbean and the Bahamas.

Disney Cruise Line to Sail First British Isles Itinerary in 2016New British Isles - On June 5, 2016, Disney Cruise Line will sail from Dover, England on its very first British Isles itinerary. The 12-night cruise on the Disney Magic will sail to Invergordon, Kirkwall and Greenock (Glasgow), Scotland; Newcastle and Liverpool, England; Dublin, Ireland; Le Havre (Paris), France; and Guernsey; one of the Channel Islands. All of these, except Kirkwall, are first-time ports of call for Disney Cruise Line.

On this itinerary, guests can explore the majestic beauty of Scotland, experience Highland culture, sample traditional cuisine and spirits, and discover the country's iconic castles. Elsewhere on the itinerary, guests will experience the merry, cosmopolitan city of Dublin, the culturally rich and romantic Paris, the birthplace of the Beatles and the British Invasion in Liverpool, and the charming countryside of Guernsey.

New Iceland and Norway - Disney Cruise Line guests can explore the natural wonders of Iceland with two new 12-night Disney Magic sailings. Each itinerary includes two days in Reykjavik and a stop in Akureyri, Iceland; Bergen, Norway; and Kirkwall, Scotland. Departing from Dover, England and concluding in Copenhagen, Denmark, the June 17 cruise also visits Stavanger, Norway and Newcastle, England. The July 13 cruise departing from Copenhagen, Denmark and concluding in Dover, England also visits Oslo and Kristiansand, Norway and Invergordon, Scotland.

On this itinerary, three days in Iceland provides time to explore the country's rich natural wonders such as volcanoes, lava fields, glaciers and thermal springs. In Norway, guests are immersed in the splendor and charm of the country with exciting ports steeped in Viking history.

New Norwegian Fjords from Dover - For the first time, Disney Cruise Line will sail from Dover, England on a seven-night cruise to the majestic Norwegian fjords. Departing on May 29, the Disney Magic will visit Stavanger, Alesund, Geiranger and Bergen, Norway.

In Norway, Disney Cruise Line guests will discover breathtaking natural wonders such as magnificent mountain ranges, massive glaciers and majestic fjords. The enchanting Scandinavian culture of the region comes to life through local attractions, stunning architecture, storybook villages and historic city centers.

More Summer 2016 Itineraries - During the summer of 2016, the Disney Magic will return to favorite destinations in northern Europe, the Greek Isles and the Mediterranean with a variety of seven-night and longer sailings.

From May through August 2016, the Disney Wonder will return to Alaska, sailing from Vancouver, Canada to Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan.

In 2016, the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy will sail from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas and Caribbean on a variety of itineraries. All of these cruises include a stop at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay.

Viking River Cruises Expands Fleet With 12 New Ships
Marking another year of impressive growth, Viking River Cruises (www.vikingrivercruises.com) yesterday welcomed the newest additions to its fleet of river cruise vessels at a simultaneous christening ceremony in Amsterdam and Rostock, Germany. The company christened a total of 12 new river vessels, including 10 of its award-winning Viking Longships and two custom vessels for the Elbe River. This event officially brings Viking's total river fleet size to 60 and comes just one year after the company set a GUINNESS WORLD RECORD for the most new ships launched in a single day.

Viking River Cruises Expands Fleet With 12 New ShipsAll 10 of the new Viking Longships will be deployed on Viking's itineraries in Europe, including three of the most popular itineraries – Grand European Tour, Romantic Danube and Rhine Getaway. Also, as a result of high consumer demand for the Elegant Elbe itinerary, the two new specially designed ships will double the company's capacity on the Elbe River for 2015.

"We are immensely proud of the response to our new ships that we continue to receive from guests and industry experts," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "It is always important that we recognize those who have helped us achieve success, and this year I am especially pleased to honor fellow Vikings as godmothers of our newest river vessels." Viking Godmothers - Staying true to the naval tradition, Viking named 12 of its longest-serving employees as ceremonial godmothers for the new ships. With representation from Viking's onboard operations team, as well as from the operational headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, the corporate headquarters in Los Angeles and the London office, each godmother represents a department that has contributed to the consistently high guest satisfaction ratings and the growth and success of the company. The full list of godmothers includes:
• Donora Anderson, Senior Director of Operations and godmother of Viking Skirnir
• Clare Armitage, Senior Operations Executive and godmother of Viking Eir
• Sinemie Bakker, Program Director and godmother of Viking Astrild
• Henrieta Balisova, Program Director and godmother of Viking Vili
• Adriana Filkaszova, Receptionist and godmother of Viking Beyla
• Jana Hudakova, Chief Receptionist and godmother of Viking Mimir
• Miriam Kajuchova, Housekeeper and godmother of Viking Ve
• Karoline Landa, Controller & Hotel Manager and godmother of Viking Lofn
• Kornelia Pfeiffenberger, Hotel Manager and godmother of Viking Vidar
• Faye Pirie, Specialist Cruise Consultant and godmother of Viking Modi
• Julie Rosoff, Senior Director of Marketing Services and godmother of Viking Mani
• Verona Thiele, Concierge and godmother of Viking Gefjon

Since debuting in 2012, Viking Longships have amassed a long list of prestigious awards. They topped Condé Nast Traveler's annual readers' Cruise Poll for best river cruise ships – with Viking Odin specifically being named the #1 top-ranking river cruise ship – and the entire class of vessels was named "Best New River Ships" in Cruise Critic's® Editors' Picks Awards.

Viking Longships integrate a patented corridor design and cutting-edge technology with comfortable amenities that reflect guest preferences and current travel trends. These features include a revolutionary all-weather indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace that reinvents the onboard lounge experience by bringing the panoramic outdoor river scenery indoors with retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors and allows guests to enjoy the views and dine al fresco. Accommodating 190 passengers in 95 staterooms, Viking Longships have a patented layout that allows for two Explorer Suites – the largest river cruise suites in Europe – as well as seven two-room Veranda Suites with a full-size veranda in the living room and a French balcony in the bedroom; 39 Veranda Staterooms with full-size verandas; and 22 French Balcony Staterooms. Additionally, all Longships have sustainability upgrades, such as onboard solar panels and organic herb gardens, and energy-efficient hybrid engines that also reduce vibrations for a remarkably smooth ride.

Hosting 98 guests in 49 staterooms, sister ships Viking Astrild and Viking Beyla will be the newest and most modern ships sailing the Elbe River. Smaller than Viking Longships, with customized hulls and engines specially designed to navigate this unique river, these ships tout many of the same popular features – including an Aquavit Terrace, a wide variety of stateroom choices, hotel-style beds, energy-efficient hybrid engines, onboard solar panels and an organic herb garden, as well as Viking's signature Scandinavian design aesthetic.

The expansion of Viking's fleet comes as a response to increased traveler demand for destination-focused cruises, and there is still an opportunity to sail in 2015. Guests interested in current special savings discounts for 2015 departures and early pricing promotions for 2016 departures should visit the promotions page located on www.vikingrivercruises.com.

In addition to the new Viking Longships and new vessels designed for the Elbe River, the company's first ocean ship, the 930-passenger Viking Star, is currently under construction and will set sail with its first passengers on April 11, 2015.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 46.06 - 0.52%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 78.36 - 0.87%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.76 - 3.16%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 52.63 + 2.37%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
During the Queen Mary's last voyage in 1967, a 14,559 mile journey across the Atlantic and around South America, she carried two very large pieces of unusual cargo on her main deck - what were they?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Here's another Photo Cruise Trivia - This picture was taken from a dinner menu cover from a ship I sailed on in 1970. Name the ship or her sister.


Click Here for a larger version of the picture.

Answer - The ship in the postcard is the SS Santa Rosa of 1958, owned by the Grace Line. This liner was later rebuilt and renamed as The Emerald for Thomson Cruises. Until 2012, she was laid up at Alang breaking yards. Santa Rosa had a sister ship called the Santa Paula.
courtesy of Fernando Molina, Seville, Spain.


Cruise News - March 16, 2015

MSC Cruises Reveals First Details Of New "Seaside" Class Ship
MSC Cruises, the largest privately-owned cruise company in the world, announced today that the first of its next generation “Seaside” class of ships – set to debut in November 2017 – will be named MSC Seaside and sail year-round from Miami to the Caribbean.

MSC Cruises Reveals First Details Of New Seaside Class ShipIn addition, MSC Cruises announced that its Miami-based cruise operations will benefit from a newly renovated and expanded dedicated berth and terminal at PortMiami – a testament to the company’s growing ambitions in the North American market and to providing guests with the best service possible.

Following the first ship’s delivery from the shipyard, MSC Seaside will make her way to Miami for MSC Cruises’ first ever christening ceremony in the U.S. to take place in late 2017.

“The Seaside class of ships is part of MSC Cruises’ $5.3 billion fleet expansion plan that will allow the company to double its capacity by 2022,” said Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises. “Today is a very exciting day for the company as this is the first major announcement related to the company’s new builds and demonstrates our enthusiasm and long-term commitment to continuing to expand our presence in North America.”

With a gross tonnage of 154,000 tons and the ability to accommodate up to 4,140 guests at double occupancy, MSC Seaside will be the largest cruise ship ever built by Fincantieri shipyards. The ship will offer a vast range of popular itineraries from Miami to the Caribbean.

“MSC Cruises has the unique opportunity to provide North American guests with a ‘Mediterranean Style Cruise’ experience that no other line is able to offer, and guests from around the world a unique setting as it sails to the most sought-after destinations in the Caribbean” added Onorato. “Since bringing MSC Divina to Miami in November 2013, we’ve seen significant demand from consumers in the product, excellent support from our travel agent partners and the growing need for additional MSC Cruises’ ships in the market.”

As part of a first look at what MSC Seaside will offer on board, the company also unveiled that the ship will boast the most interactive and originally-designed aqua park at sea with five water slides and attractions for all ages. The park is being built by WhiteWater West Industries of Canada, the award-winning designer and manufacturer of waterpark attractions globally.

Highlights of the multi-story aqua park will include:

Slideboarding - In an industry first, MSC will add to the thrills of traditional waterpark fun by offering guests the chance to participate in “Slideboarding™” – a unique waterslide and interactive video game all in one. Guests race down a two-story, 367 foot slide on a sleekly designed raft that includes an embedded game controller with colored buttons. The end goal – match the color of the flashing strobe lights seen on various sections of the slide with the colored buttons on the raft. The slide uses a smart gaming system that knows who riders are and tracks their progress and scores over the run down the waterslide.

Duelling High-Speed Aquatubes - In a high energy competitive setting, guests race against other guests through a combined 525 feet of twists, turns and drops, on slides that partially extend over the side of the ship and give riders a look a quick look at the sea below.

AquaPlay & AquaSpray - To cater to its youngest guests, a portion of MSC Seaside’s aqua park will be designed specifically for tots, featuring an active and colorful water play structure that is an experience all on its own. The AquaPlay™ area will be complete with tipping buckets, various spray cannons, solid stream jets, a raintree and a mini-slide.

In addition, various interactive AquaSpray™ activities, such as jets, falls, forts and more will be found throughout the water park for all ages to enjoy.

Adventure Trail - Directly connected to the aqua park is the Adventure Trail, a ropes course which allows guests to cross-cross between soaring towers, rope bridges, climbs, crawl-throughs and slides as they enjoy an amazing bird’s eye view of the water. Explorers on the trail will need to move quickly though as guests below will be able to use water spray cannons to soak their friends and family.

Florida Couple Sails on 100th Cruise on Same Carnival Ship

Talk about brand loyalty!  On Sunday, March 15, Bernard and Janice Caffary boarded the Carnival Sensation in Port Canaveral, Fla., for a four-day cruise to the Bahamas – the 100th time the couple has sailed on the 2,052-passenger “Fun Ship.”   The Caffarys are the first guests in the company’s 43-year history to sail on a single Carnival ship 100 times.

Florida Couple Sails on 100th Cruise on Same Carnival ShipThe couple began sailing aboard Carnival Sensation in 2002 with the vast majority of voyages departing from Port Canaveral where the ship has been based since 2006.  Sunday’s Carnival Sensation cruise was the Caffarys’ 142nd voyage with Carnival overall.

“We love cruising and there’s just something about the Carnival Sensation that is so special to us and has helped create a lifetime of so many great memories,” said Janice Caffary.  “While we love the ship, it’s the Carnival Sensation’s wonderful and attentive team who keep us coming back again and again.  They’re like family to us.”

Said Bernard Caffary,” The warm and inviting atmosphere from the Carnival Sensation’s crew is evident every time we’re on board.  We have created ‘I Give Crew Hugs’ badges for that very reason.  Everyone looks forward to their hugs and so do we.”

Carnival Sensation and the Canaveral Port Authority truly rolled out the red carpet for the Caffarys. The VIP treatment began the minute the Caffarys arrived at the cruise terminal with Carnival Sensation and port personnel on hand to greet the couple with a custom-made banner.

During the cruise, a special video honoring the couple was played during the past guest party and a photo opp with 100 Carnival Sensation team members – signifying the Caffarys 100th cruise – was also held.   In addition to various in-cabin gifts, shipboard acknowledgements and dinner with the captain, the Caffarys received a signed framed Carnival flag presented by the ship’s management team, along with a personal letter from Carnival President Christine Duffy congratulating them on this historic milestone.

Carnival Sensation operates three- and four-day Bahamas cruises from Port Canaveral, carrying approximately 225,000 passengers a year from the Space Coast.

Cunard and The New York Times Collaborate On Enrichment Program
Cunard has come together with The New York Times to offer stimulating speakers as part of its long-running, award-winning Insights program. The exclusive offering will debut on Queen Mary 2 on 3 January 2016 and will be on tap during all East-bound Transatlantic Crossings in 2016.

Cunard and The New York Times Collaborate On Enrichment ProgramTo kick-off the series, the 3 January 2016 cruise dubbed "The New York Times Insights Cruise" will feature an impressive line-up of The New York Times' experts including: former foreign correspondent and columnist Clyde Haberman; science writer John Schwartz; Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist David Cay Johnston; national security reporter Michael Schmidt; and Peter Lewis, former senior writer at The New York Times and Fortune Magazine. From national security, climate change, and the space program, to economics, tax issues, sports, technology, journalism, laws of the ancient world and much more, intellectually curious passengers will enjoy unique access to a wealth of research and insights from some the world's leading luminaries.

For those who want even greater immersion into The New York Times and its content, guests can purchase an exclusive pre-cruise and onboard package for the 3 January Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic sailing. This program includes a tour of the newsroom and brunch at The New York Times prior to sailing, as well as additional onboard elements. Places are limited to just 100 guests and must be booked by contacting Times Journeys directly at 855-698-6363.

Setting the benchmark for compelling onboard enrichment programs, Cunard was the first line to provide guests stimulating lecturers from a wide variety of disciplines, when the program officially launched on QE2 in the 1970s. Since then, it has been a much-anticipated signature of the line and continues to provide a robust line-up of speakers on every voyage today. However, the company, which is celebrating its 175th Anniversary this year, can trace the early inception of the program to the days when such luminaries as Noel Coward and Cole Porter would sail Atlantic Crossings on the Queen Mary and informally perform and regale guests in after-dinner salons with titillating anecdotes from their various experiences and travels. Now Cunard Insights will be even more compelling as Cunard collaborates with The New York Times' leading roster of journalists and contributors.

In addition to the customized The New York Times Insights Cruise, Cunard will also feature The New York Times Insights experts on every Eastbound Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Crossing in 2016 as part of the line's Insights program. Cunard Insights regularly offers compelling talks on a variety of contemporary issues by well-known celebrities and knowledgeable personalities.

"We are thrilled to collaborate with The New York Times to curate such an enriching and entertaining travel adventure," says Richard Meadows, president, Cunard, North America. "This will be an exciting enhancement to our Cunard Insights program, with a caliber of experts that will surely spark a stimulating and thought-provoking experience for our guests."

Holland America Line Partners with Billboard for Live Music Venue
Holland America Line is using 50 years of chart-topping hits as the framework for a new live interactive music experience called Billboard Onboard that will debut as part of the Music Walk complex on the line’s first Pinnacle-class ship, ms Koningsdam. The new programming is in partnership with Billboard, the leading global destination for charts, news, trends and innovations in music.

Holland America Line Partners with Billboard for Live Music VenueBillboard Onboard will showcase the talents of live musicians — including two pianists, a guitarist and a DJ — who will take turns performing dynamic shows centered around the interesting facts and figures of the music industry as chronicled by Billboard. Between the nightly sets and songs, guests can sing and play along with trivia questions presented on screens throughout the room.

“Our guests love music that spans all genres, and Billboard Onboard is the perfect way to showcase a wide range of popular hits under one roof,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “We’re thrilled to partner with Billboard to debut a venue that will cater to all ages and nationalities.”

“Billboard is the authoritative voice in the music industry. We are excited to expand our influence to interesting concepts that make sense for the brand,” said John Amato, co-president, Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter. “The inherent trust we have with our audience brings credibility and power to this new music venue and allows artists another platform to share their talents.”

The venue debut is a continuation of the growth the brand has seen in the last year, from a new online layout for its entire slate of renowned weekly charts to the launch of Adapt Studios, a branded content studio alongside The Hollywood Reporter. A chance to bring the Billboard experience to life, Billboard Onboard represents an extension of the brand as it curates venues worldwide.

The new Music Walk complex on ms Koningsdam will encompass the ship’s musical offerings and partnerships, including Billboard Onboard, B. B. King’s Blues Club and Lincoln Center Stage.

Carnival Sunshine to Operate 20 Voyages From New York in 2016
Carnival Sunshine – the first ship to feature all of the line's spectacular Fun Ship 2.0 dining, bar and entertainment innovations – will offer a unique schedule from New York in 2016 encompassing 20 voyages departing between June and October 2016.

Carnival Sunshine to Operate 20 Voyages From New York in 2016This marks the first time that a Fun Ship 2.0-equipped ship will offer such a diverse itinerary schedule from the Big Apple with options ranging from value-packed two-day cruises to exciting 10-day Caribbean voyages.

Carnival Sunshine will also offer a series of sailings from Charleston, S.C., and Norfolk, Va., in summer and fall 2016, providing exciting new cruise choices in these markets. Following these departures from New York, Charleston and Norfolk, Carnival Sunshine will return to its current homeport of Port Canaveral, Fla., to offer a schedule of five- to eight-day Caribbean voyages from the Space Coast beginning in November 2016.

Guests sailing on these voyages can experience all that Carnival Sunshine has to offer, including a stunning three-deck-high Serenity adults-only retreat with its own pool and waterfall. The ship also features one-of-a-kind dining experiences like JiJi Asian Kitchen, a massive WaterWorks aqua park featuring the longest slide in the fleet, a SportSquare outdoor recreation area with a suspended ropes course, and innovative bar concepts like Havana Bar, all of which were added during a groundbreaking $155 million makeover.

"Carnival Sunshine has an extraordinary array of guest features and facilities and will provide consumers and our valued travel agent partners with a wide range of itinerary choices from these highly attractive East Coast homeports," said Christine Duffy, Carnival's president.

Carnival Sunshine's 2016 schedule includes:

New York
• Two-day cruises departing June 18 and Oct. 8, 2016
• Four-day cruises to Saint John departing June 30 and July 28, 2016
• Five-day sailings to Saint John and Halifax departing June 20 and 25 and Oct. 10, 2016
• Seven-day Canada/New England cruises to Boston, Portland, Saint John and Halifax departing Sept. 3, 10, 17 and 24 and Oct. 15, 2016
• Seven-day Bermuda cruise featuring a three-day stay in King's Wharf departing Oct. 1
• Eight-day Exotic eastern Caribbean voyages to San Juan, St. Thomas and Grand Turk departing July 4 and 20 and Aug. 17, 2016
• Eight-day Exotic eastern Caribbean voyages to Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and Nassau or Amber Cove (Dominican Republic) departing July 12 and Aug. 1 and 9, 2016
• Nine-day Carnival Journeys voyage departing Aug. 25 and featuring San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Grand Turk

Charleston
• Two-day cruise departing Nov. 11, 2016
• Four-day voyage to Nassau departing May 26, 2016
• Five-day Bahamas cruises to Nassau and Freeport departing May 21 and Nov. 6, 2016
• 10-day Carnival Journeys cruise departing May 30, 2016 and featuring St. Thomas, Antigua, Martinique, St. Kitts and San Juan

Norfolk
• Two-day cruises departing June 10 and Oct. 28, 2016
• Five-day voyage to Nassau and Freeport June 12, 2016
• Five-day Bermuda cruise overnighting in King's Wharf Oct. 23, 2016
• Six-day Bahamas cruise to Nassau, the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay and Freeport departing Oct. 30, 2016

Port Canaveral
• Five-day cruises to Freeport, Nassau and Half Moon Cay departing Nov. 14, 2016, Jan. 8, Feb. 19 and April 2 and 23, 2017
• Five-day cruises to Amber Cove and Grand Turk departing Dec. 26, 2016, Jan. 19 and March 12, 2017
• Seven-day eastern Caribbean sailings to Amber Cove, St. Thomas, San Juan and Grand Turk departing Nov. 19 and Dec. 3, 2016
• Seven-day western Caribbean cruise to Costa Maya, Mahogany Bay, Belize and Cozumel departing Nov. 26, 2016
• Eight-day southern Caribbean cruises visiting Aruba, Curacao and Grand Turk departing Dec. 31, 2016, Jan. 21, March 4 and 25, and April 28, 2017
• Eight-day southern Caribbean voyages to Aruba, Bonaire and Grand Turk departing Dec. 10, 2016, Feb. 3 and April 15, 2017
• Eight-day eastern Caribbean cruises to Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Kitts and St. Maarten departing Dec. 18, 2016, Jan. 13, Feb. 11 and 24, March 17 and April 7, 2017
• Nine-day Carnival Journeys voyage visiting St. Kitts, Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Maarten departing April 29, 2016

In 2015, Carnival Splendor will operate a series of four- to eight-day voyages from New York to the Caribbean, New England and eastern Canada and two- to seven-day departures from Norfolk to The Bahamas and Bermuda. Carnival Sunshine replaces Carnival Splendor on the line's departures from New York and Norfolk in 2016. Additional information on the future homeport of Carnival Splendor will be provided in the near future.

Each of these destinations offers a variety of exciting landside experiences, including world-class beaches, unique dining, shopping and sightseeing opportunities, interesting landmarks and attractions and a rich history and cultures.

While aboard Carnival Sunshine, guests can enjoy the ship's luxurious Cloud 9 Spa, savor delicious culinary choices like the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, the Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian restaurant, and Guy's Burger Joint developed in tandem with Food Network personality Guy Fieri. Guest can also enjoy fun entertainment options like the Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez, audience favorite Hasbro, The Game Show, and high-tech Playlist Productions shows.

In addition to unforgettable experiences both on board and ashore, these sailings depart from three highly convenient homeports, providing consumers with an easy and affordable means for getting to and from their "Fun Ship" cruise.

Three Carnival Sunshine voyages – the nine-day cruise departing Port Canaveral April 29, 2016, the 10-day cruise departing May 30, 2016 from Charleston and the nine-day voyage departing Aug. 25, 2016 from New York – are part of the line's recently announced Carnival Journeys series that feature exceptional ports and unique on-board experiences showcasing local cuisine, entertainment and cultural opportunities. Enrichment seminars focusing on photography, cooking, arts and crafts, social media and celestial navigation, along with a 1980s-themed "Throwback Sea Day" and question and answer sessions with shipboard personnel, will also be offered.

Carnival Sunshine will operate three previously announced Carnival Journeys adventures in 2015-16 – an 11-day voyage departing Port Canaveral Nov. 28, 2015, a 10-day cruise departing San Juan Dec. 9, 2015, and a 13-day voyage departing Port Canaveral Feb. 21, 2016. The six Carnival Journeys cruises operated by Carnival Sunshine are the most of any Carnival ship.

New Studies Show Asia Cruise Potential
Two new studies on Asia's cruise market released today by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) reveal a potential 83 million cruise passengers in Greater China and highlight how Hong Kong and regional ports are gearing up to tap into this market by upgrading cruise infrastructure and tourism offerings.

New Studies Show Asia Cruise PotentialThe studies – the Asia Cruise Potential and Passenger Behaviour Study and the Asia Cruise Port Development Study – are the first of their kind and were released by HKTB on the opening day of Cruise Shipping Miami, the cruise industry's leading international event.

Initiated by HKTB, the two studies were carried out by the School of Hotel and Tourism Management of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University with the aim of providing insight and useful information to help cruise companies unlock the region's cruise potential.

Huge potential in Greater China - The Asia Cruise Potential and Passenger Behaviour Study specifically examined the potential market in Greater China, which is currently the largest source of cruise travellers in Asia and the 8th largest in the world, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

The study reveals a potential 83 million cruise passengers in just seven source markets within Greater China. This figure is four times the current number of cruise passengers world-wide. Hong Kong, with its connectivity to the Pearl River Delta, Central China and Taiwan by air, high speed rail and land transportation via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, is looking at a cruise potential of 54 million passengers.

The study also reveals that the make-up of these passengers is younger and more family-oriented than cruise passengers in traditional source markets such as North America and Europe, where they tend to be older, retired achievers. As many as 69 percent of respondents from the family segment with children under the age of 16 said they intended to take a cruise, while more than 51 percent of respondents between the ages of 20 and 29 said they have set their sights on a future cruise holiday.

Asia's ports gear up to tap into the huge potential - The second study, Asia's Cruise Port Development Study, focused on the development of ports in Hong Kong and neighboring areas. Its results highlight the commitment throughout the region to facilitate the growth in cruise business by improving port facilities and tourism offerings in the next 5 to 20 years.

Positioning Hong Kong as the home ship destination, the study identifies 21 ports within 6-7 cruise days which already have concrete plans to upgrade berths, cruise infrastructure and supporting infrastructure, as well as expand tourism offerings and improve destination management in areas such as the issuing of visas. These ports include: Sanya, Xiamen, Zhoushan, Qingdao and Yantai in China, Keelung, Hualien, Kaohsiung, Anping, Taichung, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu in Taiwan, Miyakojima and Takamatsu in Japan, Mokpo and Yeosu in South Korea, Hon La in Vietnam, and Manila, Boracay and Puerto Princesa in the Philippines.

According to the study, within five years, half of these ports will be able to receive cruise ships of 100,000 gross tonnage. This will give cruise companies more flexibility in deploying their fleet and planning interesting itineraries with cultural, scenic or adventure activities to cater for all market segments.

Anthony Lau, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, said, "The studies highlighted both the potential for growth in Asia cruise tourism and the region's commitment to the industry."

"Hong Kong, being Asia's Cruise Hub at the heart of Asia, is the perfect location to tap into the growing cruise potential in the region," said Mr. Lau.

"With the results of the two surveys showing the great potential and committed development, combined with the Asia Cruise Fund, Asia's cruise tourism is ready to take off."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 46.30 + 2.91%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 79.05 - 0.09%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.85 - 3.39%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 51.41 + 1.06%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Here's another Photo Cruise Trivia - This picture was taken from a dinner menu cover from a ship I sailed on in 1970. Name the ship or her sister.

Click Here for a larger version of the picture.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
The decorative doors of the classic French liner Normandie's Grand Foyer survived the ship's fire and sinking. Where can you see those doors today?

Answer - Normandie's famous foyer doors can be seen at Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Brooklyn NY.
courtesy of John Fostik


Cruise News - March 9, 2015

P&O's Britannia Christened by Queen Elizabeth
Carnival Corporation & plc celebrated the launch of P&O Cruises UK's newest ship, Britannia, in a naming ceremony held today in Southampton, England, to commemorate its entry into service for the P&O Cruises fleet. Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, officially named Britannia in a glittering ceremony in which a bottle of British Wiston Estate Brut NV was broken against the hull of the 143,000 tons cruise ship.

Carnival Corporation & plc celebrated the launch of P&O Cruises UK's newest ship, Britannia, in a naming ceremony held today in Southampton, EnglandUpholding its celebration of all things British, P&O Cruises selected sparkling wine from the Wiston Estate Winery in Sussex. A nebuchadnezzar of the Brut NV was used for the bottle smash moment itself while thousands of bottles of Brut NV and Rosa, Vintage 2011 will be enjoyed during the various inaugural events that are scheduled to take place around the launch

The ceremony was hosted by actor, comedian and TV presenter Rob Brydon who features in P&O Cruises latest advertising campaign and included the Royal Marines Band Service, the Band of the Irish Guards and English soprano Laura Wright, as well as a Strictly Come Dancing cameo show.

Britannia, the first of two new ships joining Carnival Corporation's industry-leading fleet in 2015, will be joined later this year by AIDA's new flagship vessel, AIDAprima, when it begins regular service this fall.

Britannia, the biggest ship designed exclusively for Britain, embodies the spirit of modern Britain through the ship's contemporary, elegant design, cutting-edge art collection, best of British chefs, state-of-the-art cookery school and world-class spa. Following the naming ceremony, the 3,657-passenger vessel will embark on her maiden voyage to the Mediterranean and during her maiden season will also sail to the Norwegian Fjords, Canary Islands and the Baltic Sea, as well as offering a range of short breaks and a special "round-Britain" cruise. The 143,000-ton ship will then transfer to the Caribbean for the winter season sailing a range of 15 night fly/cruise itineraries from Barbados.

Carnival Corporation President & CEO Arnold Donald, Carnival UK Chairman David Dingle and Carnival UK CEO David Noyes along with distinguished guests, government officials and the ship's crew helped welcome Britannia to the fleet at today's naming ceremony.

Carnival Corporation & plc celebrated the launch of P&O Cruises UK's newest ship, Britannia, in a naming ceremony held today in Southampton, England"The Britannia is a stunning ship that is equal parts beauty, class and entertainment, and will surely provide an amazing experience for our guests," said Donald. "Today's celebration, filled with so many classic elements that are quintessentially British, was the perfect way to kick off her official start of service in our fleet. As Britannia immediately begins wowing our guests on her inaugural voyage this weekend, we look forward to building on this excitement and momentum with our next great ship addition in 2015, the AIDAprima. She will join our Carnival Corporation fleet this fall as one of the most technologically advanced cruise ships ever built."

Donald added, "These amazing new ships are part of our fleet enhancement strategy that will see 10 new ships join our fleet in the next three years. More importantly, every one of our ships plays a key role in helping us meet our goal to consistently exceed guest expectations on every voyage, and to give our guests the vacation of a lifetime, every time they cruise with us."

The new flagship of AIDA Cruises, AIDAprima, will join its fleet in fall 2015 as the most environmentally friendly cruise ship to date. It will kick off its service with a 50-day journey from Yokohama, Japan, to Dubai. Following its maiden voyage, AIDAprima will offer seven-day-cruises from Dubai. In spring 2016, it will head to Hamburg, Germany, where it will have its homeport, making AIDA Cruises the first cruise line to have a ship based in Germany year-round. Starting on April 30, 2016, AIDAprima will make the first of its all-season seven-day journeys through Western Europe. The 124,100-ton vessel will be able to accommodate 3,300 passengers and will feature a variety of world-class entertainment, on-board activities, dining, shopping and relaxation offerings.

In addition to these two ships, Carnival Corporation will welcome ships from five of its nine global brands in the next three years. The brands include AIDA Cruises, Holland America Line (two ships), Carnival Cruise Line (two ships), Seabourn (two ships) and Princess Cruises. All told, Carnival Corporation has refreshed its global fleet – the largest in the world – with more than 30 new ship additions since 2007, including two ships launched in late 2014, Regal Princess and Costa Diadema.

In 2016, Carnival Cruise Line is scheduled to debut Carnival Vista, a stunning 133,500-ton ship that will be the largest ever in its fleet, and Holland America Line will launch its newest ship, the 99,500-ton ms Koningsdam, a new Pinnacle Class ship that can carry 2,650 passengers. Also in 2016, AIDA will introduce a new sister ship to the AIDAprima with capacity for 3,300 passengers, while Seabourn will unveil its newest luxury ship, expected to be the biggest ever built by the brand with the ability to serve 604 passengers.

Looking forward to 2017, Princess Cruises is working with Fincantieri to build a 3,560 passenger, 143,000-ton vessel featuring the highly popular design elements introduced by the brand's two newest ships, sisters Royal Princess and Regal Princess.

Carnival Glory Passenger Goes Overboard
A 21 year old Carnival Glory passenger was reported missing early Sunday morning. The male passenger, Cameron Smook of Glen Allen, Virginia was a student at Virginia Tech and was traveling with fellow students on a spring break cruise.

Carnival Glory Passenger Goes Overboard<The missing passenger's traveling companions alerted crew members that they he had fallen overboard on the first night of the 7-day Caribbean cruise. Surveillance video apparently captured him falling after climbing over the railing of a sixth-deck balcony while the ship was sailing five miles southwest of Abaco Island, Bahamas.

Once notified, the captain immediately turned the ship around to return to the location where he was reported missing and a search initiated. Carnival Ecstasy, which was sailing nearby also assisted in the search.

The captain also alerted the U.S. Coast Guard which dispatched an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and a HC-144 search and rescue plane from Coast Guard Air Station Miami. The USCG Cutter Cutter Bernard C. Webber was also dispatched to assist in the search. Once the Coast Guard assets were in place, both Carnival ships were released and allowed to continue on their respective itineraries.

The Coast Guard searched by air and sea an area of 5,500 nautical square miles — roughly 6,330 miles — between Sunday and sunset Tuesday. The Coast Guard called off the search Tuesday evening.

HAL's ms Koningsdam Floated Out at Fincantieri Shipyard
Holland America Line celebrated another milestone this week in the construction of ms Koningsdam with the float-out and transfer of the ship from its dry dock to its outfitting dock at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard in Italy.

HAL's ms Koningsdam Floated Out at Fincantieri ShipyardAt the outfitting dock, final construction and interior furnishing will take place until the ship is delivered March 31, 2016.

"A ship's construction has many key milestones, and floating it out and moving it to the outfitting dock is especially symbolic," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "The float out represents that we are getting closer to welcoming Koningsdam to our fleet and seeing the ship in the water adds to the excitement among our loyal guests, travel agent partners and employees in anticipation of its arrival."

A coin ceremony also was held earlier on Feb. 26, when Tineke Schroder, wife of the founder of Dutch airline Martinair and a member of Holland America Line's Mariner Society, served as the ship's madrina.

During the coin ceremony, observed as a tradition to bring good fortune, two gold coins were welded to the forward mast of the ship by Schroder; Antonio Quintano, director of Fincantieri Shipyard; and Keith Taylor, executive vice president, fleet operations, for Holland America Line, followed by speeches and a blessing by the shipyard chaplain. The gold coins bear the image of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. The word koning means "king" in Dutch, and the ship's name pays honor to the first king of the Netherlands in over a century.

NCL Names New President and Chief Operating Officer
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. announced that company veteran Andy Stuart has been named President and Chief Operating Officer of Norwegian Cruise Line effective today, following the resignation of Drew Madsen. Stuart has been with Norwegian Cruise Line since 1988 and has held a number of leadership positions, most recently as Executive Vice President of Sales.

NCL Names New President and Chief Operating Officer"Given the recent restructuring of the role and job responsibilities, Drew has decided to step down. We thank him for his contributions and wish him well," said Frank Del Rio, President and Chief Executive Officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. "As we continue to build the newly merged organization, we are tapping into the tremendous company and industry knowledge that Andy has, along with the strong relationships he has built with our travel partners."

"Andy and Norwegian are virtually synonymous. He is very well known and respected by our guests, travel partners, officers, crew, and team members. I am extremely confident that he is the perfect leader for the next phase of Norwegian's growth," added Del Rio. In this role, Stuart will report to Del Rio.

Stuart has been instrumental in building the Norwegian brand, particularly in the roll out and marketing of the line's signature Freestyle Cruising. He also greatly strengthened relationships with travel partners with the introduction of Partners First, the company's corporate philosophy of always putting its travel partners first. During his 27-year tenure with the company, he has held responsibility for a number of key areas including: Global Sales, Passenger Services, Revenue Management, Marketing and Public Relations. He also served as Chief Product Officer, responsible for delivery of the Freestyle Cruising product across the Norwegian fleet, ensuring that it provided exceptional value and quality for guests and was consistent with the marketing and brand positioning of the company.

"Having seen Norwegian Cruise Line grow significantly during the course of my career, I am thrilled and proud to lead this incredible company as we continue to enhance and build the brand," said Stuart. "The future is extremely bright and I am looking forward to continuing to work with our travel partners through our expanded sales team, delivering an exceptional product to our guests in conjunction with our hard-working officers and crew and ensuring that our team members are motivated and engaged, all the while building value for our shareholders."

Carnival Cruise Line Introducing Carnival Journeys
Carnival Cruise Line has launched Carnival Journeys -- a unique collection of nine- to 15-day seagoing adventures that kick off this fall and feature spectacular ports throughout the Caribbean, Central America, Hawaii and Mexico, along with unique shipboard experiences created especially for this one-of-a-kind cruise program.

Carnival Cruise Line Introducing Carnival JourneysCarnival Journeys is designed to provide guests with exciting new itinerary choices that will feature less traveled, more exotic ports of call. Carnival Journeys itineraries have been specifically designed for guests who are looking for a longer cruise vacation that will provide the opportunity to visit a wide variety of great destinations and more time to fully enjoy all of the features and facilities available on a selection of the line's newest and most innovative ships. Carnival Journeys cruises will also include exciting shipboard activities to provide a truly unique Carnival vacation experience.

"We have received a tremendous amount of feedback from our guests and travel agent partners about the importance of consistently offering new Carnival cruise experiences," said Christine Duffy, Carnival's president. "Carnival Journeys was created to offer our existing customers even more options while helping us to attract those guests who have not had the opportunity to sail with Carnival and may be enticed by these longer, more exotic itineraries. These new cruises also offer our valued travel agent partners a tremendous new sales opportunity and a great way to earn enhanced commissions based on the longer cruise duration," she added.

Carnival Journeys will debut with an 11-day cruise aboard Carnival Dream from New Orleans to San Juan Oct. 4, 2015. The program will run through Nov. 27, 2016, encompassing 28 departures from eight convenient North American homeports including Los Angeles, Galveston, New Orleans, Miami, Port Canaveral, New York, Baltimore and San Juan. Cruises will operate either round-trip from these homeports or one-way between these ports and San Juan. The itineraries are unique and not available on any other cruise line. A detailed listing of all 28 Carnival Journeys sailings is available here. Additional Carnival Journeys sailings will be announced in the near future.

On Carnival Journeys, guests can experience and explore nearly 40 different tropical destinations, including less visited ports like Tobago, Grenada, La Paz, Martinique, Bonaire and Ixtapa, each home to diverse cultures, centuries-old landmarks and historical structures, and unforgettable natural attractions.

Memorable Activities Carnival Journeys participants can also enjoy unique shipboard experiences that will be tailored to each itinerary in the areas of dining, entertainment, team member connections and enrichment, all infused with the line's spirited brand of fun. These experiences will include:

• Authentic Eats: Partnering with local restaurants and chefs, Carnival Journeys participants can enjoy on-board cooking demonstrations where these culinary artists will recreate their signature dishes and traditional cuisines from their country. Participants will also have an opportunity to dine at the chef's restaurant ashore for a nominal fee and accompany the chef as he or she visits local markets for delectable regional specialties.

• "Local"-tainment: From calypso, soca and Goombay to colorful folkloric entertainment, Carnival Journeys participants will get an up close and personal look at their destination through local entertainment performances taking place outside the ship or on board.

• Academy of Fun: Through these educational enrichment sessions, Carnival's shipboard experts will instruct guests in topics ranging from cooking and arts and crafts to digital photography and social media, even celestial navigation. All of these activities will be performed with the fun and entertaining style that only Carnival can provide.

• Throwback Sea Day: Carnival will set the "way back machine" to 1987 and recreate a fun day at sea with retro pool and deck games, old school dining options like Baked Alaska and the gala midnight buffet, a white glove Captain's Celebration, popular movies from that era, a circa 1987 version of the Carnival Capers shipboard newsletter, and more.

• Shipboard Team Member Connections: Here, Carnival Journeys participants can learn more about shipboard life through informative question and answer sessions hosted by the ship's captain, cruise director, hotel director and others, held at different times throughout the voyage and providing an opportunity to engage and interact with the Carnival team in a fun and casual setting. There will also be an unforgettable show performed by the ship's crew during the voyage.

Crystal Cruises Unveils Four New World Cruises In 2018
For the first time in Crystal Cruises' history, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity will each embark on World Cruises in 2018 – offering travelers four separate global itineraries aboard the award-winning ships.

The concurrent world cruise routes for 2018 begin in January, with both ships simultaneously arriving in Sydney on February 17. This rare meeting allows the exciting opportunity to combine the itineraries of the two ships, as guests can switch vessels for a new odyssey. Ranging from 97 to 129 days, the innovative voyages will travel to a combined 111 destinations in 45 countries, featuring 16 maiden calls and 50 overnights. During the ship's rendezvous in Sydney, full World Cruise guests will be treated to a spectacular gala celebration.

Crystal Cruises Unveils Four New World Cruises In 2018Crystal's 2018 World Cruise collection includes Crystal Symphony's first full World Cruise since 2003; Crystal Serenity's 15th global expedition; and the unprecedented ability to begin on Crystal Symphony then switch to Crystal Serenity in Sydney for a journey through Asia, India, and Holy Land; or set sail on Crystal Serenity before joining Crystal Symphony in Sydney for a South Pacific route to Miami.

"Crystal Cruises has long been celebrated for cultivating original, captivating itineraries throughout the world's most beloved destinations, as well as less visited gems," says Crystal's president, Edie Rodriguez. "The 2018 World Cruise voyages are a true testament to Crystal's continued innovation and creativity, and our commitment to guests in broadening their luxury travel experiences."

With the announcement of four spectacular world cruises for 2018, the luxury cruise leader becomes the first cruise line to have a collection of World Cruises printed and available for booking for the next three years (2016 – 2018).

2018 World Cruise Itineraries include:

World Cruise One/Cape Town to Miami/January 7 to April 30, 2018 Crystal Symphony departs Cape Town, South Africa on a 114-day sailing covering much of the Southern Hemisphere, including South Africa, Australia/New Zealand, the South Pacific/French Polynesia; and South America before exploring the Caribbean. The journey will make six maiden calls including: Geraldton, Bunbury, and Esperance Australia; Burnie, Tasmania; Fakarava, French Polynesia, and Robinson Crusoe Island, Chile.

World Cruise Two/Los Angeles to Rome/January 23 to May 16, 2018 Crystal Serenity embarks on a 112-day scenic exploration of the South Pacific, Australia, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, India, Dubai and the Mediterranean. The journey is highlighted by maiden calls and overnights in Manila, Philippines, and Mumbai, India. Other overnight highlights include Muscat, Oman; Dubai, UAE; and Safaga, Egypt - the gateway to the Temple of Luxor.

World Cruise Three/Cape Town to Rome/January 7 to May 16, 2018 Aboard the longest duration of the itineraries with 129-days, guests set sail on the first part of Crystal Symphony's World Cruise segments from South Africa through Australia before continuing their adventure aboard Crystal Serenity on a journey bound for Asia, India, Egypt, the Holy Lands and Italy.

World Cruise Four/Los Angeles to Miami/January 23 to April 30, 2018 Following 24 days of navigating the islands of Hawaii, Fiji and other exotic beach destinations aboard Crystal Serenity, guests can join Crystal Symphony for a unique West to East coast voyage. The full 97-day sailing will travel through the Milford Sound, French Polynesia, Easter Island for Easter and Panama Canal.

The ground-breaking World Cruise revelation comes on the heels of Crystal's parent company, Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK), announcing it entered into an agreement with Genting Hong Kong (GHK) on the sale of Crystal Cruises, Inc. (CCI). With the support of GHK's financial resources and expertise in ship design, Crystal Cruises' fleet size will expand with the build and delivery of a new ship in 2018, elevating the standard of luxury cruising and luxury cruise ships. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2015.

As with each annual Crystal World Cruise, the epic 2018 voyages are also available for booking in shorter segments.

Seabourn Encore Inaugural Voyage Sells Out in Two Days
Seabourn announced this week that Seabourn Encore, the cruise line's ship set to enter service in 2016, is proving to be in very high demand. Just two days after open bookings were announced for her maiden season, Seabourn Encore's 10-day inaugural voyage has already sold out and is waitlist only.

Seabourn Encore will maintain the line's high ratio of space per guest"We are thrilled with the overwhelming response we have received for the inaugural voyage of Seabourn Encore," said John Delaney, Seabourn's Senior Vice President, Marketing & Sales. "We're looking forward to providing our guests the award-winning cruise experience that they have come to love and expect on what will be the most beautiful ultra-luxury ship ever built."

Seabourn Encore will expand and build on the line's award-winning and highly acclaimed Odyssey-class ships, which revolutionized ultra-luxury cruising with enhanced accommodations and innovative amenities when they were introduced between 2009 and 2011. Seabourn Encore will maintain the line's high ratio of space per guest, enabling highly personalized service by close to one staff member for each guest on board. A sister ship, Seabourn Ovation, will join the fleet in 2018, and with the addition of the two new ships, Seabourn will have the newest ultra-luxury fleet in the industry.

Seabourn Encore's maiden season will launch from Athens in December 2016, offering two pre-inaugural cruises exploring the exotic coasts of Israel, Arabia, India and Southeast Asia, providing travelers with a preview of the vessel before its inaugural voyage.

The 10-day inaugural voyage, which went on sale to the public March 3, will begin with a gala naming ceremony in vibrant Singapore on January 7, 2017, marking the ship's official debut. Guests fortunate enough to have landed a reservation will then embark with Seabourn Encore on a 10-day inaugural voyage to Bali, including stops in Surabaya, Java; Celukan Bawang, Bali; and Slawi Bay, Komodo, Indonesia.

Seabourn Encore will go on to spend the remainder of its maiden season operating a series of 16-day voyages cruising the Pacific Rim in Australia and New Zealand, calling at the metropolitan cities of Sydney and Melbourne and exploring both islands of New Zealand. The ship will also visit popular ports, such as Auckland and Wellington, while exploring other picturesque towns, including Oban, New Zealand's southernmost city, on Stewart Island, and the charming port of Picton, the gateway to the stunning scenery of Marlborough Sound. While the 10-day inaugural sailing is sold out, opportunities still exist to book these other maiden season voyages.

Designed by hospitality design icon Adam D. Tihany, Seabourn Encore will feature modern design elements and innovations consistent with the line's reputation for understated elegance. The 40,350-GRT ship will be configured with one additional deck and new expanded public areas, and is expected to carry just 604 guests, based on double occupancy. In addition, every suite will feature a private veranda.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 44.99 - 0.44%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 79.12 + 0.14%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.95 + 5.36%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 50.87 + 0.10%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
The decorative doors of the classic French liner Normandie's Grand Foyer survived the ship's fire and sinking. Where can you see those doors today?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Here's another Photo Cruise Trivia - This picture was taken in September of 1963. The ship passing behind our ship is pretty easy to recognize, but can you name the ship from which the photo was taken? Look closely, there are clues...


Click Here for a larger version of the picture.

Answer - The France arriving at her New York Pier 88 was taken from an American Export Line ship at Pier 84; it was either the Constitution or Independence (it is the Constitution).
courtesy of John Fostik


Cruise News - March 2, 2015

Crystal Cruises Sold to Genting Hong Kong
Today, Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK), Crystal Cruises’ parent company since its inception in 1988, announced it has entered into an agreement with Genting Hong Kong (GHK), under which Crystal Cruises will be acquired by GHK. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2015.

Crystal’s fleet currently features Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity.With the support of GHK’s financial strength and expertise in ship design, Crystal Cruises’ fleet size will expand with a new ship, elevating the standard of luxury cruising and luxury cruise ships. Crystal’s fleet currently features Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity.

“After 25 successful years with NYK, we are excited to have Genting Hong Kong as the new owner of Crystal Cruises,” said Edie Rodriguez, President and COO of Crystal Cruises. “The proposed expansion of our fleet will present our loyal Crystal Society members and new luxury cruise guests with more itinerary options, accommodation choices and exceptional vacation experiences, as we continue to position Crystal as the innovative leader in global luxury cruising. Additionally, Crystal’s veteran leadership, management and crew will continue to focus on our award-winning guest service and our strong partnership with the travel agent community - which now has a greater opportunity to grow their business with a larger menu of Crystal product offerings.”

Established in 1993, GHK is part of the Genting Group, a global hospitality and leisure company with business in over 20 countries, including the United States in New York, Florida and Nevada. GHK wholly owns Star Cruises, Asia’s leading cruise line, and is a major shareholder of Norwegian Cruise Line. It is a public company primarily listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and secondarily on the Singapore Stock Exchange.

“Crystal Cruises offers the epitome of luxury cruising and the service standard which all other cruise lines aspire to,” said Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Chairman, CEO and Acting President of GHK. “The current management team and crew will continue to lead Crystal Cruises. Genting will provide financial resources and proven expertise in innovative ship design to build a new ship that will set the highest standard in luxury cruise ships. This new ship, together with Crystal’s legendary six-star service, will reinforce Crystal Cruises’ reputation as the world’s leading luxury cruise line for decades to come.”

Under the terms of the agreement, GHK will acquire Crystal Cruises for US$550 million in cash which is subject to certain adjustment items to be ascertained after the closing. Crystal Cruises’ two ships have approximately 1,992 lower berths and the consideration has been determined on a cash-free and debt-free basis, translating into an enterprise value to lower berth ratio of approximately US$276,000.

Queen Elizabeth to Christen P&O's Britannia
P&O Cruises announced this week that Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, will name the new P&O Cruises vessel Britannia at Ocean Terminal, Southampton, SO14 3QN, on Tuesday March 10, 2015.

Crystal’s fleet currently features Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity.The naming will be a milestone in British maritime history and will be an event of great national interest.

Carnival UK chairman David Dingle said: “We are honoured and proud that Her Majesty will name Britannia almost 20 years after she named the P&O Cruises ship Oriana.

“Britannia, a ship for the nation, will be the embodiment of contemporary Britain, and with her Union Jack livery she will fly the flag for Britain across the Globe.”

The biggest ship designed exclusively for Britain, Britannia is P&O Cruises’ latest “modern classic”, heralding a new era of holiday choice. Chief amongst her features are her restaurants, bars and cafes, with menus and culinary experiences created by P&O Cruises’ 'Food Heroes'; James Martin, Marco Pierre White, Atul Kochhar, Eric Lanlard, wine expert Olly Smith and cheese expert Charlie Turnbull. In the new Cookery Club, a 24 person state-of-the-art cookery school, these celebrity chefs and experts will demonstrate their culinary skills, and will be joined throughout this year by other famous chefs including Mary Berry CBE, Pierre Koffmann, Paul Rankin and Commendatore Antonio Carluccio OBE.

The new Epicurean restaurant is a multi-sensory cooking experience with touches of molecular gastronomy to complement the more traditional dishes, while the Limelight Club will combine a supper club with contemporary entertainment. Britannia’s bar highlights include the Great British Gin Menu with 20 artisan gins in the Crow's Nest cocktail lounge and the Great British Beer Menu with 70 UK bottled beers, ales and ciders in Brodie’s pub. Britannia’s most outstanding design statement is reserved for her three-deck high atrium with illuminating Star Burst sculpture, and she also provides the largest British spa at sea, a state-of-the-art theatre with LED wall, four pools, gym, and a multi million pound art collection including a specially commissioned representation of the “Spirit of Modern Britain” from artist Johnny Bull.

P&O Cruises will also uphold its celebration of all things British by selecting sparkling wine from the Wiston Estate Winery in Sussex for the bottle smash moment at the naming ceremony. A nebuchadnezzar of the quintessentially British Brut NV will be used for the ceremony itself while thousands of bottles of Brut NV and Rosé Vintage 2011 will be enjoyed during the various inaugural events that are scheduled to take place around the launch.

There have been two previous Britannias in P&O history. The first entered service in 1835 for P&O’s predecessor company, The General Steam Navigation Co. To celebrate the Golden Jubilee of both Queen Victoria and P&O itself, the company built the Jubilee Class of ships which consisted of the largest and grandest steamers (6,000 tons): Victoria, Britannia, Arcadia and Oceana. This second Britannia entered service in 1887 and was built in Greenock. The Jubilee class ships carried 250 first-class passengers and 160 second-class passengers and had a cargo capacity of approximately 4,000 tons. Winston Churchill sailed on Britannia in 1888 to Bombay with his hussar regiment before going on to fight on the North West Frontier.

Royal Caribbean to Sell Splendour of the Seas
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) announced today that it has entered into an agreement to sell its cruise ship Splendour of the Seas to TUI Cruises in the second quarter of 2016. The ship will then be leased to Thomson Cruises, which will operate the vessel.

Royal Caribbean to Sell Splendour of the Seas"Splendour of the Seas debuted in 1996 and has served Royal Caribbean International extremely well," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "The ship's sale is in line with our strategic objective of divesting ourselves of older hardware and keeps us firmly on the course to the Double-Double."

Splendour of the Seas will complete all scheduled open deployment, and no sailings will be altered or disrupted due to the sale. "Splendour of the Seas has been a treasured member of the Royal Caribbean International family since she entered service," said Michael Bayley, president and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean International. "She has offered countless guests memorable vacation experiences and we look forward to continuing to provide the same Gold Anchor Service our brand is known for right up to the last sailing." Her final sailing will commence on April 4, 2016, and all officers and crew will remain with the company and will be transferred to other vessels worldwide after the ship leaves the Royal Caribbean International fleet.

Splendour of the Seas joined the Royal Caribbean International fleet in 1996, and was built by Chantier's de L'Atlantique, now STX France, in St. Nazaire, France. The 69,130-ton ship carries 1,830 guests (double occupancy) and 760 crew.

Carnival Expands New Orleans Short Cruise Program
Carnival Cruise Line will expand capacity on its four- and five-day short cruise program from New Orleans by 34 percent when Carnival Triumph replaces Carnival Elation on this schedule next spring.

In turn, Carnival Elation will reposition to Jacksonville, Fla., for year-round four- and five-day cruises and Carnival Fascination will shift to San Juan for year-round seven-day Caribbean cruises beginning in spring 2016, providing consumers with fresh and exciting new choices in these markets. As previously announced, Carnival Liberty will replace Carnival Triumph on the line's year-round four- and five- day cruise program from Galveston next spring.

Carnival Elation will reposition to Jacksonville, Fla"Repositioning these ships to New Orleans, Jacksonville and San Juan provides our guests and valued travel agent partners with fresh and exciting new 'Fun Ship' choices in three important and highly attractive cruise markets," said Christine Duffy, Carnival's president.

Carnival Triumph will shift from Galveston to New Orleans to launch year-round four- and five-day cruises to Mexico beginning April 4, 2016. On this route, four-day "long weekend" cruises depart Thursdays and call at Cozumel while five-day cruises depart Mondays and Saturdays and visit Cozumel and Progreso. During these fun and affordable getaways, consumers can relax on world-class beaches, enjoy a variety of dining, shopping and cultural opportunities and visit centuries-old Mayan ruins including Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Carnival Triumph will also offer a special three-day cruise round-trip from New Orleans April 8-11, 2016.

Carnival Triumph will join Carnival Dream which operates year-round seven-day cruises from New Orleans. Together these two ships are expected to carry 450,000 guests annually from New Orleans – the most of any cruise operator. Carnival is the only cruise line to operate two year-round ships from New Orleans and offers the widest variety of cruise durations and itinerary choices from the Big Easy.

Carnival Triumph has undergone an extensive dry dock that added a number of Fun Ship 2.0 innovations, including Guy's Burger Joint, developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri, poolside watering holes BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar, the BlueIguana Cantina Mexican eatery, cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, and Cherry On Top, a "candy and more" store. Carnival Triumph also features more than 500 staterooms and suites with private balconies that are not generally available on other short cruises and are highly coveted by Carnival guests.

Carnival Elation will shift from New Orleans to Jacksonville to operate year-round four- and five-day cruises from Jaxport beginning April 23, 2016, providing a newer ship on this highly attractive cruise program.

Carnival Elation will assume Carnival Fascination's four- and five-day schedule from Jacksonville and continue cruising's only year-round program from that port. Four-day cruises depart Thursdays and visit Freeport and Nassau and five-day voyages depart Mondays and Thursdays and visit the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay and Nassau.

In turn, Carnival Fascination will reposition to San Juan to operate year-round seven-day southern Caribbean cruises beginning April 24, 2016. These week-long adventures feature five breathtaking Caribbean islands: St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Maarten. In addition to some of the world's best beaches, these tropical seaside destinations are known for their exceptional snorkeling, scuba diving and water sports.

In anticipation of its new homeport, Carnival Elation will offer two exciting longer length cruises visiting some of the Caribbean's most stunning ports of call. An 11-day cruise will depart New Orleans April 2 and arrive in San Juan April 13, 2016, with port calls at Aruba, Curacao, Grenada, Barbados, Antigua, and St. Thomas, while a 10-day cruise will sail from San Juan to Jacksonville April 13-23, 2016, featuring Barbados, Grenada, Tobago, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Thomas.

Carnival Fascination will also offer a special six-day cruise departing Jacksonville April 18 and arriving in San Juan April 24, 2016. Featured ports on this one-time voyage will include St. Thomas, St. Kitts and St. Maarten.

All of these cruises have been specially designed to offer guests who have previously sailed with Carnival from New Orleans or Jacksonville, with new itineraries that visit more exotic ports of call. The unique appeal of these voyages should provide first-time cruisers with even more incentive to experience a Carnival cruise vacation. The 10- and 11-day cruises also offer our valued travel agent partners with the ability to earn higher commissions due to the longer cruise duration.

Holland America Line Names Director of Social Media
Holland America Line Names Director of Social MediaHolland America Line has hired Kathryn Geivett as director, social media. In this capacity Geivett’s primary responsibility will be to drive, plan and oversee the execution of strategic social media and digital initiatives for the cruise line.

She will report to Mary Beth Wressell, vice president, marketing communications, for Holland America Line.

“Social media is an important way we communicate with our fans, and we’re thrilled to have someone of Kathy’s caliber join the company to oversee all of our different engagement channels,” said Wressell. “Kathy’s experience, enthusiasm and accomplishments are a great fit for our team and we look forward to working with her.”

Geivett has more than 12 years of marketing and advertising experience with an emphasis on digital and social media. Prior to joining Holland America Line she was at Microsoft Corp. for eight years where she worked her way to the position of senior marketing communications manager, digital. Before Microsoft Geivett worked for a variety of other companies including WPP, one of the world’s leading advertising and marketing services groups; Campbell’s Soup Co. and Seattle Coffee Co.

Geivett holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business from Seattle University.

12 Healthy Reasons To Take A Cruise Vacation
According to a recent study, cruise travelers rank an ocean cruise as the best overall vacation experience. In addition to being fun, a cruise vacation provides a number of health benefits which are supported by third party research. Today, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) revealed 12 reasons why taking a cruise is a great choice for vacationing and the overall health of the cruise traveler. Tweet This

12 Healthy Reasons To Take A Cruise Vacation"People today are more stressed and overbooked than ever before. Vacations are important to allow the mind and body to re-energize and relax," said Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. "A cruise vacation in particular, provides a variety of places to see as well as the chance to take part in on-board activities in a safe and healthy environment."

1. Sunshine: There's no better place to enjoy the morning sunshine than a cruise ship deck. Studies have found that getting an hour of natural sunlight in the morning can help fine tune your internal clock, allowing you to get more (and better!) sleep. Sunshine also has long-term benefits since it helps the body produce the important Vitamin D which has been found to help fight off heart disease and cancer. Moderate amounts of sunshine will also boost serotonin levels that fight off depression. So apply sunscreen and enjoy the rays!

2. Relaxation: Finding time to relax plays a vital role in overall health. Chronic stress can lead to a myriad of problems, including impaired memory, inflammation, high blood pressure and heart disease. Skip the stress by lounging at the pool, enjoying spa treatments and relaxing in comfortable accommodations. Best of all, cruising allows for a stress-free vacation experience where vacationers can just "go with the flow" of the itinerary.

3. Cleanliness: Cruise line cleanliness is highly regulated. Each room and common area is kept clean, presentable and disinfected. From door handles to poker chips, cruise ships are regularly sanitized for the well-being of everyone on board. Clean hands also guide a steady ship, as those on-board are urged to wash hands frequently.

4. Ocean Air: The benefits of fresh, ocean air are seemingly limitless and cruisers can take full advantage day and night. Between daytime excursions and nights spent relaxing on the ship deck, there is plenty of time to breathe deeply! Fresh air is known to help keep lungs clean; aid in digestion; improve heart rate; strengthen the immune system; and provide an energy boost.

5. Salt Water: Isak Dinesen knew what she was talking about when she said, "The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea." Cruisers can take full advantage of the amazing benefits of the ocean. Aside from the stress relief a day at the beach provides, swimming in salt water can also help improve circulation by restoring vital minerals to your body. Ocean water and on-ship salt water swimming pools are also a natural beauty treatment, as the magnesium has been found to help hydrate skin and improve inflamed or red complexions.

6. Camaraderie: Humans are wired to connect with one another and in our hyper-digital age, this isn't always a daily reality. Cruising allows for high amounts of quality bonding time with your vacation partners while also allowing you to socialize with new people. Whether over a gourmet dinner in the dining room or during a comedy routine in the ship theater, cruise ships offer time to connect with others free of work emails, smart phones and hand-held gaming systems.

7. Exploration: There's something to be said about the benefits of exploration and having an adventure (not to mention the stories to tell!). Pre-planned cruise shore excursions allow cruisers to scuba dive, parasail, check out local sites in exotic locations and more, without the stress of making planning every detail or reading millions of reviews to find the right activities. Cruisers can see the world without spending months planning.

8. Healthy Dining Options: Though many people think it is impossible to eat well while on vacation, cruise ships around the world offer healthy dining fare and lighter meal options to accommodate every diet. Gluten-free? Vegan? Low-carb diet? Cruise ship chefs are happy to accommodate. Additionally, cruise ships offer buffets filled with fresh fruits, vegetables and lean proteins to help you build a better plate.

9. Staying Active: Cruise vacations offer vacationers a chance to stay active. There are plenty of onboard activities, like rock climbing, basketball or table tennis. In addition, many cruise ships offer full service gyms and fun fitness classes like yoga in the morning or nighttime tai chi. It's easy to stay active with options abound on each ship.

10. Meditation: Whether packing a dance card with endless excursions or take a leisurely stroll around the port, "think time" on a cruise can help clear the mind. Meditation has been found to help reduce stress, negative emotions, recharge the mind and increase self-awareness. Nothing takes the mind to a peaceful place like gazing into open waters or meditating in a beach chair.

11. Stress-Free Vacation Planning: Vacations are important in terms of "getting away" and bonding with loved ones but the stress of planning every detail can be daunting. Cruising allows for stress-free vacation planning with pre-planned excursions, inclusive meals and endless on-ship entertainment. More importantly, a cruise vacation allows you to unpack and get settled in your cabin without the hassle of having to move your belongings, while you visit multiple destinations.

12. Better Budget Value: Nothing can bring down a vacation high quite like returning to a pile of credit card bills. Cruise vacations are a great all-inclusive way to enjoy a variety of vacation experiences without a variety of hidden costs. Cruise travel agents are also available to help budget and pre-plan trips for the most budget-friendly experiences. "The great thing about a cruise is that you can do as much or as little as you want, and you'll still have a nice break from your daily routines at home," Whitbourne continued. "If you do decide to explore the sights and many opportunities a cruise can provide, you'll come back from your trip with a set of new memories, experiences and even friends."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 45.19 + 3.84%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 79.01 + 2.80%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.80 -+ 3.32%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 50.82 + 6.18%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Here's another Photo Cruise Trivia - This picture was taken in September of 1963. The ship passing behind our ship is pretty easy to recognize, but can you name the ship from which the photo was taken? Look closely, there are clues...


Click Here for a larger version of the picture.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - When French Line's France entered service in 1961 the Salle Des Sports (Sports' Center) on Sun Deck featured what must have been a unique shipboard diversion. What were they? (Hint: there were two of them).

Answer - When French Line's France entered service in 1961 the Salle Des Sports (Sports' Center) on Sun Deck featured bowling lanes.
courtesy of Sheila Cooper


Cruise News - February 23, 2015

Royal Caribbean Names Third Oasis Class Ship Harmony of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International’s new generation Oasis-class ship, Harmony of the Seas, is set to launch in April 2016. The third in the Oasis class of ships – currently the largest cruise ships in the world – will continue the award-winning cruise line’s philosophy of innovation and imagination to offer a unique vacation adventure for guests.

Royal Caribbean Names Third Oasis Class Ship Harmony of the Seas“We are orchestrating a medley of new exciting concepts with the best Royal Caribbean innovations to strike the perfect chord for adventurous vacationers. That is why we are calling our third Oasis-class ship Harmony of the Seas,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.

Harmony of the Seas, featuring the cruise line’s design of seven distinct neighborhoods for which Oasis class is known, will offer the most amazing collection of experiences, amenities and activities at sea. Guests can test their mettle on the ship’s three multi-story waterslides, all of which twist and turn over Central Park 10 decks below. One of the slides also will feature a champagne bowl that swirls guests around as they make their approach to the end of the ride.

“The Oasis class ships continue to astound and delight both new and experienced cruisers. They shatter preconceived notions of what cruising can be and continue to stand in a category by themselves,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “With Harmony of the Seas, we are making the most exciting experience at sea even better.”

Harmony of the Seas also will feature a new Bionic Bar on the Royal Promenade. The Bionic Bar was first introduced aboard Quantum of the Seas, and feature robot bartenders serving up one-of-a-kind crafted cocktails while dancing to a fluid beat. Additionally, guests onboard Harmony of the Seas will enjoy RFID technology with Royal WOWBands that provide them access to their staterooms as well as make onboard purchases and reservations. Like her sisters, Harmony also will feature the fastest Internet connection at sea where guests can stream video; Skype with family and friends back at home; and share their vacation memories through social media instantly while at sea.

While Oasis and Allure offered some of the largest staterooms in the fleet, on Harmony of the Seas the company has made some stateroom categories even larger. Interior accommodations also will be outfitted with Royal Caribbean’s exclusive Virtual Balconies which offer a view in every stateroom, while single travelers will have studio stateroom choices. Suite guests also will have exclusive new areas to enjoy, from a well-appointed suite lounge and a private suites-only restaurant called Coastal Kitchen to an exclusive full-service Suite Sun Zone sun deck.

Younger and young-at-heart guests can take a spin on the handcrafted carousel or enjoy a new classic games arcade on the ship’s Boardwalk neighborhood. While parents enjoy the newly relocated Starbucks café on the Boardwalk, kids can meet new friends at a new climbing play area.

Royal Caribbean’s Dynamic Dining will give Harmony of the Seas’ guests a culinary experience as vast and varied as dining in the world’s most cosmopolitan cities with more choice and flexibility than ever before. Those preferring a more traditional cruise dining style may select the “Classic” option which will offer two set seating times. Dynamic Dining’s “Classic” option allows guests to rotate through each of the main complimentary restaurants at an early- or a late-seating time throughout their cruise with their dining group and the same assigned waiter each evening.

New specialty restaurant concepts will provide even more variety for guests including Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, with a new teppanyaki menu, and the Sabor Modern Mexican restaurant. The new Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine will give guests the chance to experience a unique culinary adventure for the senses when Royal Caribbean chefs twist their culinary kaleidoscopes in a whimsical setting that challenges the imagination with never-before-seen fare.

Harmony of the Seas will span 16 decks, encompass 227,000 gross registered tons, carry 5,479 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,747 staterooms. The Oasis class is an architectural marvel touting Royal Caribbean’s exclusive seven neighborhood concept, including Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone. For more information about Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships, please visit Royal Caribbean Press Center.

Princess Unveils New 2016 Europe Cruise Offerings
Princess Cruises announced today its 2016 cruise vacations to Europe featuring five ships sailing to over 130 destinations from the corners of the Mediterranean to the northernmost tip of Europe. Guests can choose from itineraries ranging from three to 48 days and on ships ranging from the cruise line’s newest and largest Royal Princess and Regal Princess; to its deluxe Caribbean Princess and Emerald Princess; and its small ship, Pacific Princess, which will visit off-the-beaten path destinations never before visited by the line.

The 2016 season includes the cruise line’s return to the Canary Islands and many maiden ports of call for Princess in Croatia, Ireland, Norway and Scotland. All 2016 Europe cruises open for bookings on March 19, 2015.

“Princess has long been hailed as offering the best cruise itineraries and we’re not resting on our laurels,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “We have many unique and first-time offerings for the 2016 Europe cruise season to appeal to both novice and avid cruisers. We’ve combined the best destinations with our signature onboard innovations like Movies Under the Stars, The Sanctuary and our new Discovery at Sea program to create the most rejuvenating retreats at sea possible for vacation-goers who want to explore this fascinating region.”

Princess Unveils New 2016 Europe Cruise OfferingsCruises to the Mediterranean - Royal Princess will sail on a variety of unique seven-, 14-, 21- and 28-day cruises from Barcelona, Rome and Athens. Mediterranean Medley 14-day sailings include destinations rich with ancient history including Rome, Athens and Naples. Collection voyages will sail the entire Mediterranean region visiting Spain, France, Italy, Tunisia, Malta, Greece and Turkey during 21-day immersive adventures. For the ultimate Mediterranean experience, 28-day Circle Mediterranean voyages will visit 20 destinations in seven countries with all cruises visiting Rome, Athens, Istanbul and the French Riviera.

Pacific Princess will offer a variety of 12-day voyages from Rome, Venice and Barcelona and feature a mix of marquee ports with off-the-beaten-path ports unreachable by larger ships.

For guests sailing from Britain, Emerald Princess will be based in London (Southampton) to offer two-week Mediterranean Adventurer sailings featuring such marquee ports as Florence, Rome and Dubrovnik. Emerald Princess will also sail to the Canary Islands on 11-day voyages, visiting four island destinations in the Canaries and Madeira and Vigo, Spain.

Scandinavia & Russia Cruises - Regal Princess returns to Northern Europe, for popular 11-day cruise vacations to Scandinavia & Russia featuring two full days in St. Petersburg, Russia. Joining her in the region, Emerald Princess will sail select 14-day cruises through the Baltic Sea.

British Isles Cruises - Caribbean Princess, the only cruise ship dedicated to the region for the entire summer season, will visit must-see destinations in the U.K., Ireland and Scotland, including two opportunities to see Scotland’s famed Edinburgh Military Tattoo on the grounds of Edinburgh Castle.

Small ship Pacific Princess will offer an all-new way to explore the British Isles on 14-day Irish Counties & Scottish Highlands voyages from London (Dover). The itinerary includes maiden port calls in Ullapool, Scotland and Galway, along the western coast of Ireland.

Iceland & Norway Cruises - Both Emerald Princess and Pacific Princess will offer North Cape voyages to the Arctic Circle during the peak midnight sun period around the summer solstice. Emerald Princess will also visit the spectacular Norwegian fjords, while Pacific Princess will feature a maiden call in Haugesund, Norway.

Pacific Princess will also offer 14-day Iceland & Norway itineraries visiting off-the-beaten path ports in Iceland and the Shetland Islands. She will also cross to the land of fire and ice on a Transatlantic crossing featuring Iceland.

European Cruisetours - Guests can enhance their European travel with four land and sea vacation options, which combine certain sailings with a fully-escorted land tour. Choices include Paris and the French Countryside; Ireland’s Ring of Kerry; Classic Italy, visiting popular sites in Venice, Florence and Rome; and the Imperial Treasures of Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin.

Holland America Line's Introduces New 2015 Alaska Land+Sea Journeys
Holland America Line's popular Land+Sea Journeys combine an Alaska cruise with an overland exploration, and in 2015 guests will have more ways than ever to see this remote and off-the-beaten path part of the world. The line is the only cruise company to weave the must-see sights such as Denali National Park — the centerpiece of every Land+Sea Journey — with the seldom-seen sights such as Dawson, City in the heart of Klondike Gold Rush Country in exclusive cruise and land packages to the North.

The 13 options for 2015 range from 10 to 20 days and are in two distinct series with cruise-first or land-first choices: the industry-exclusive Yukon and Denali Land+Sea Journeys and Denali Land+Sea Journeys. Each option combines a three- to seven-night Holland America Line cruise with a one-, two- or three-night stay at Denali National Park. New for 2015, guests will have a great, competitively priced option if they have limited time: a 10-day Denali Land+Sea Journey that combines one night at Denali and a seven-night cruise.

"There are few places in the world that lend themselves so naturally to be explored by combining a cruise with an overland adventure, and with 68 years as a leader in Alaska travel, we are renown for giving our guests the best of Alaska and the Yukon," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "Our elegant ships and legendary service perfectly complement our unique ability to deliver Alaska's must-see highlights and wonders of the Yukon."

The Land+Sea Journeys emphasize Holland America Line's 68-year history in showcasing the majesty of Alaska by sea, rail and road while maintaining premium standards throughout the entire vacation. Each Land+Sea Journey showcases places such as Dawson City, Yukon, in the heart of gold rush country; charming Seward, Alaska; the five-star Alyeska Resort; pristine Tombstone park; colorful Skagway, Alaska; and the historic narrow gauge White Pass and Yukon Route railroad.

Last year, the line enhanced the program to include a one-hour flight between Fairbanks and Dawson City, bringing Alaska and the Yukon closer together and giving guests more time in the destinations.

Holland America Line also acquired the McKinley Chalet, a magnificent 68-acre hotel property on the Nenana RiverHolland America Line also acquired the McKinley Chalet, a magnificent 68-acre hotel property on the Nenana River. The line is now able to offer Land+Sea Journey guests their own elegant wilderness retreat that features seamless hospitality and sustainable Alaskan cuisine. The hotel serves as the ideal base camp for all adventures at Denali National Park such as flightseeing, ATV adventures, hiking trails, river rafting and more. Accommodations were stylishly updated, and newly appointed mini-suites nestled along the river make for the ultimate retreat. A hotel enhancement program also saw extensive room updates and upgrades to soft goods and hotel decor in properties in Skagway, Fairbanks and Whitehorse.

The five Land+Sea Journeys that include Yukon and Denali range in length from 10 to 20 days and travel roundtrip Vancouver, British Columbia, or between Vancouver and Anchorage, Alaska. During these trips guests will enjoy scenic cruising along the Inside Passage and/or Glacier Bay before calling at Ketchikan, Juneau, Haines or Skagway, Alaska. In addition to Denali National Park, the overland portion includes Fairbanks and Whitehorse and Dawson City, Yukon.

The eight Denali Land+Sea Journeys range in length from 10 to 14 days and travel between Vancouver and Fairbanks or Anchorage, Alaska. Included is Glacier Bay scenic cruising where guests can explore the ice-studded fjords of this national treasure for a full eight hours as a park ranger narrates. Ports of call on the cruise portion include Haines or Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, while the overland portion features Denali and Fairbanks.

On double- and triple-night Yukon and Denali and Denali Journeys, the comprehensive six- to eight-hour Tundra Wilderness tour is included for the best way to see epic Denali National Park with its abundance of wildlife and Mount McKinley, the highest mountain peak in North America. For adventure seekers there also are plenty of optional opportunities to go hiking, rafting, flightseeing and fishing.

Land+Sea Journeys feature luxurious glass-domed McKinley Explorer railcars with comfortable, forward-facing seats and expert commentary by guides between Denali and Anchorage. In addition, Holland America Line's exclusive Explorer Coaches create a superior environment for traveling the highway between Skagway and Dawson City with roomy leather seats, lavish legroom and no more than 44 travelers.

Unique to the Holland America Line cruise experience, Alaska-inspired cuisine is featured throughout both cruise and land components. Optional meal plans have been expanded to include all Land + Sea Journeys and meals on days in Denali and Anchorage. Additionally, knowledgeable interpreters, Journey Hosts, Glacier Bay park rangers and Alaska travel guides are present on most Land+Sea tours and Alaska sailings.

Princess Details 2016 Alaska Cruise and Cruisetour Program
Next summer, six Princess Cruises ships will sail Alaska’s scenic wonderland, offering multiple itinerary options, innovative onboard native cultural experiences and a variety of land and sea vacation packages for further exploring the 49th state’s magnificent interior.

The line’s signature Voyage of the Glaciers itinerary, with its unrivaled glacier-viewing opportunities, will be offered on Coral Princess, Star Princess and Island Princess between Whittier (Anchorage) and Vancouver; while cruises through the Inside Passage, with its ever-changing scenery from picturesque shores to friendly coastal towns, will be offered aboard Ruby Princess and Crown Princess from Seattle and Grand Princess from San Francisco.

Princess Details 2016 Alaska Cruise and Cruisetour ProgramWhile onboard, as part of Princess’ immersive North to Alaska! Program, guests will experience expanded Alaska seafood offerings, with signature dishes from local chefs and restaurants; unique interactions with Alaskans including crabbers who appeared on Discovery’s Deadliest Catch and Iditarod winner Libby Riddles; and onboard events celebrating local history and customs like the Klondike Gold Rush and Midnight Sun phenomenon.

In addition, the cruise line’s land and sea vacation packages will offer flexible ways to delve deeper into the fascinating Alaska frontier. Land tours are combined with a seven-day “Voyage of the Glaciers” cruise and include the company’s premier wilderness lodges, luxurious “Direct to the Wilderness” domed rail service, plus visits to the top two attractions in Alaska – Glacier Bay National Park and Denali National Park.

“Princess continues to build on ourlong-standing recognition as the best Alaska cruise vacation with compelling ways to see and experience The Great Land,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “There’s no better way to see Alaska’s glaciers, wildlife and national parks than from the perspective of our spectacular ships, exclusive rail service and Princess-owned wilderness lodges.”

Alaska Cruises - With 106 departures from Seattle, San Francisco, Vancouver and Whittier featuring 15 unique ports and destinations, options abound for exploring Alaska in 2016 aboard Princess ships, including:

• Voyage of the Glaciers – Princess’ most popular Gulf of Alaska offering sailings between Vancouver and Whittier features two glacier-viewing experiences on every voyage, with visits to the UNESCO-listed Glacier Bay National Park plus either Hubbard Glacier or College Fjord.

• Inside Passage –This breathtaking part of Alaska, known for its lush scenery and wildlife-filled fjords, will be featured on seven- and 10-day roundtrip voyages with the option to visit Glacier Bay on select sailings from Seattle and San Francisco. Alaska Land and Sea VacationsPrincess offers guests more than 20 add-on land tour options in 2016, most featuring multiple nights in the Denali area to fully enjoy the wonder of Mt. McKinley. New this year, guests will also be able to purchase a pre-paid meal package for the land portion of their cruisetour. Options include:

• Denali Explorer – As Princess’ most popular cruisetour option, this itinerary features multiple nights at the line’s Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge and/or Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. Most offer Princess’ exclusive luxury rail service between Whittier and the dramatic Denali National Park area, traveling between the ship and Denali all in one day, plus the opportunity to explore Fairbanks or Anchorage.

• On Your Own – An affordable option for independent-minded travelers, these tours offer a flexible way to see the heart of Alaska. Tours follow similar routes as Denali Explorer options, but do not include any pre-planned excursions, giving travelers the opportunity to customize their own experience.

• Off the Beaten Path – These tours are designed to take travelers beyond Denali to more remote regions of the state such as the Kenai Peninsula and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Connoisseur – These cruisetour options offer the services of a professional tour director and additional time for guests to experience the Great Land. Offering the highest level of service, these tours include most meals and enhanced sightseeing options.

• Heart of the Rockies Plus Rail – This 14-night cruisetour originates in Calgary and includes daylight rail service on the Rocky Mountaineer. The fully escorted land tour combines with a seven-day northbound Voyage of the Glaciers cruise on Star Princess and includes most breakfasts and dinners. Spectacular overnight accommodations are offered at a choice of the Fairmont Palliser Hotel, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise or Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.

Carnival Triumph Makes Inaugural Call To Dominica
Dominica welcomed Carnival Triumph of Carnival Cruise Lines this week as it made its inaugural call, arriving at the Roseau Cruise Ship Berth. With a passenger capacity of 2,754 and crew size of 1,100, Carnival Triumph sailed to the "Nature Island" from Grenada. This is the Triumph's only scheduled call to Dominica during the 2014/2015 cruise season.

Carnival Triumph Makes Inaugural Call To DominicaTo commemorate the occasion, government officials and tourism stakeholders exchanged plaques with the ship's captain and crew as part of a welcome ceremony aboard the ship. Local steel pan ensemble, Ti Bois and Rhythm and Steels, provided shore side cultural entertainment during the festivities.

"We are excited to welcome Carnival Triumph, its passengers and crew," said Colin Piper, Dominica's director of tourism. "The relationship between Carnival Cruise Lines and Dominica began in 1989, and we are pleased to build on this long-standing partnership.

Upon leaving Dominica the ship sailed to St. Maarten. Carnival Cruise Lines began calling on Dominica in 1989, but stopped in 2010. This is the third CCL vessel to call on the island since 2010.

Cruise tourism is a major component of Dominica's growing tourism sector. During the 2013/2014 cruise season, there were one hundred and eighty-eight (188) calls which translated into 282,404 passengers. An estimated 191 cruise ships are expected to call to Dominica during the 2014/2015 season, bringing 292,210 visitors to the island. So far during the 2014/2015 cruise season, seven ships have made inaugural calls on Dominica.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 43.52/FONT> + 0.53%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 76.81 + 3.43%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.71 - 0.37%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 47.86 + 10.28%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
When French Line's France entered service in 1961 the Salle Des Sports (Sports' Center) on Sun Deck featured what must have been a unique shipboard diversion. What were they? (Hint: there were two of them).

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - What was the name of the cruise ship that caught fire during a Christmas cruise in 1963 and sank six days later?

Answer - The Dutch built, but Greek owned, TSMS Lakonia sank with substantial casualties on 22nd December, 1963.
courtesy of Bruce McKenzie, Guam.


Cruise News - February 16, 2015

Carnival Corp. to Open $85 Million Port in Dominican Republic in October 2015
Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest travel and leisure company, today announced it will begin welcoming guests at its newly developed Amber Cove port in the Dominican Republic beginning October 2015. Six of Carnival Corporation's nine brands will call on Amber Cove along the country's Amber Coast – a partial filming location for the original Jurassic Park movie – to give cruise passengers another exotic location to explore as part of their vacation experience.

With the opening of the new Amber Cove port, passengers will be able to make stops along the Dominican Republic's north Amber Coast, which has not been regularly visited on cruise itineraries since the 1980s. It will open expanded itinerary options in the Caribbean, the world's most popular region for cruise vacations1, and will pair with the company's Grand Turk Cruise Center only 100 miles to the north to anchor new central Caribbean itineraries for Carnival's nine global brands. In looking to the future, the port is strategically located to be incorporated into itineraries featuring potential stops in Cuba.

Carnival Corporation to Open $85 Million Port in Dominican Republic in October 2015The new $85 million facility represents the largest cruise industry investment ever made in the Dominican Republic, and will feature a two-berth port able to accommodate the largest cruise vessels in operation today. Carnival Corporation has monitored the various stages of the port's construction progress with the use of drones, an innovative development that is being used for the first time as part of the company's port development process. The facility, a joint project between Carnival Corporation and the Rannik family of Grupo B&R, is expected to host more than 250,000 cruise passengers in its first year of operation. It will provide approximately 430 local jobs.

"The construction of the cruise port at Amber Cove has been an incredible project for our entire country, as well as the Caribbean region as a whole," said Francisco Javier, tourism director of the Dominican Republic. "Carnival Corporation's investment in Amber Cove has already proven beneficial to the economy, and we expect the investment to have a positive long-lasting economic impact. The new port will also give cruise passengers an opportunity to see another part of the Dominican Republic, our Amber Coast, which hasn't been available as part of cruise itineraries in nearly 30 years. This is a very exciting development."

The port will open with a visit from Carnival Victory from the company's Carnival Cruise Line brand on October 6, 2015. Following this inaugural visit, five additional Carnival Corporation brands are scheduled to make calls on Amber Cove -- including Cunard's Queen Mary 2 on November 22, P&O Cruises' (UK) Azura on December 5, AIDA Cruises' AIDAvita on December 11, Costa Cruises' Costa Deliziosa on December 31 and Holland America Line's ms Eurodam on January 19.

Additional ships from the company's brands are scheduled to call on the port in late 2015 and through 2016 including Carnival Cruise Line's Fantasy, Splendor, Valor, Sunshine, Conquest and Breeze and Holland America Line's Nieuw Amsterdam. These visits will consist of 57 calls by 13 different ships across the six brands taking place between October 2015 and April 2016, accounting for more than 155,000 guests during this period.

As the world's largest cruising market – representing more than 37 percent of the global cruise business2 – the Caribbean is a strategic geographic region for Carnival Corporation and the overall cruise industry and is highly popular for vacationers.

This new port facility in the Dominican Republic underscores the company's focus on creating great vacation experiences, as passengers sailing the Caribbean will have an exciting new destination to visit. It will also give Carnival Corporation's nine global cruise brands the ability to create more diverse itineraries, another important part of the cruise experience. More than 60 percent of cruisers are repeat passengers, and offering robust itineraries keeps the experience fresh and engaging for them.

"There are several markets that are becoming increasingly important to the cruise industry, but today the Caribbean is the single largest share of our business," said Giora Israel, senior vice president of global port and destination development for Carnival Corporation. "We are constantly looking for new ways for our guests to enjoy their cruise experience, and it is always exciting to add new destinations to our itineraries, especially in the Caribbean where many of our passengers have been before. We are confident that our guests will love visiting Amber Cove, which we believe will quickly become a very popular port of call for our guests. And because Amber Cove is easily accessible, it will give our guests a convenient gateway to the Puerto Plata region, which is spectacular. And importantly, Amber Cove will allow us to offer our guests a new option in our Caribbean itineraries."

The opening of Amber Cove adds to the portfolio of cruise destinations Carnival Corporation has developed in the Caribbean. This includes the Grand Turk Cruise Center in the Turks & Caicos Islands, Puerta Maya on the Island of Cozumel, Mexico, and Mahogany Bay on the island of Roatan, Honduras. It is one of roughly 60 ports Carnival Corporation's brands visit in the region.

The Amber Cove port is located in the heart of the Dominican Republic's North Coast just outside the historical town of Puerto Plata, which was discovered by Christopher Columbus in the 1490s and was recently named by Travel + Leisure magazine as one of the "Best Places to Travel in 2015." This newest Caribbean destination was developed to re-establish the Dominican Republic's North Coast as a popular cruise destination – the last cruise ship to call at Puerto Plata was nearly 30 years ago.

Amber Cove will feature a waterfront welcome center with a variety of retail offerings, including a marketplace for Dominican crafts and souvenirs, as well as a wide range of unique food and beverage establishments. The port will also include a recreational area featuring amenities such as a pool, splash zone and green space areas. The transportation hub -- the single largest component of the port -- will provide visitors easy access by land and sea to the surrounding destinations and attractions.

The new port will host one of the most extensive shore excursion programs available in the Caribbean, offering roughly 40 different landside experiences including beaches, water sports and special culinary, cultural and adventure options. Many of these excursion offerings will come from well-established local operators. Nearby Ocean World, one of the region's largest marine adventure parks, offers guests popular ways to experience and interact with a variety of marine animals.

Norwegian Reports Financial Results for the Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2014
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. today reported financial results for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2014, and provided guidance for the first quarter and full year 2015. Reported results for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2014 include the results of the recently acquired Prestige Cruise Holdings, Inc. ("Prestige Cruise Holdings", "Prestige") beginning on the closing of the acquisition on November 19, 2014. Due to the abbreviated period of consolidation of Prestige's results, certain metrics are presented both on an as reported basis and on a basis excluding the results of Prestige ("Norwegian Stand-alone").

Full Year 2014 Results

Video Highlights the February Cunard Royal Rendezvous"Looking back at our accomplishments over the past year, it is clear that 2014 will be remembered as one of solid growth and game-changing expansion for the company," said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. "Strong results are a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team members who, despite operating in a challenging environment, kept a keen eye on optimizing pricing and managing expenses while delivering exceptional vacation experiences to our guests. Looking ahead, the acquisition of Prestige has created the cruise industry's most dynamic and diversified operator, one that is well-positioned to realize meaningful synergies and deliver superior results. I look forward to leading this exciting organization, which mixes a deep history in the industry with an entrepreneurial spirit that is unique among cruise operators," continued Del Rio.

Norwegian reported on an as reported basis a 61.0% increase in Adjusted EPS to $2.27, on Adjusted Net Income of $480.6 million, which excludes expenses related to the Prestige acquisition and other items. On a GAAP basis, diluted earnings per share and net income were $1.62 and $338.4 million, respectively. Earnings per share for 2014 includes a $(0.03) per share impact related to an incident on board Oceania Cruises' Insignia in December 2014. On a Norwegian Stand-alone basis, Adjusted EPS increased 64.5% to $2.32. This follows a 45% increase in Adjusted EPS in 2013 and further demonstrates the Company's underlying earnings power.

A 25.5% improvement in Adjusted Net Revenue to $2.4 billion was driven by a 19.8% increase in Capacity Days coupled with a 4.8% improvement in Adjusted Net Yield. Adjusted Net Revenue excludes a deferred revenue fair value adjustment of $10.1 million related to the acquisition of Prestige. The increase in Capacity Days was primarily a result of the addition of Norwegian Breakaway and Getaway, which entered the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet in April 2013 and January 2014, respectively, and the addition of Capacity Days from the Prestige fleet. The improvement in Adjusted Net Yield was primarily the result of a 3.3% increase in Norwegian Stand-alone Net Yield (3.2% on a Constant Currency basis) and partially due to the addition of Prestige's brands to the fleet. Revenue for the period increased 21.6% to $3.1 billion from $2.6 billion in 2013.

On an as reported basis, Adjusted Net Cruise Cost Excluding Fuel per Capacity Day increased 3.5%. Adjusted Net Cruise Cost Excluding Fuel per Capacity Day increased 1.0% on a Norwegian Stand-alone basis (0.8% on a Constant Currency basis) due to investments in conjunction with the Norwegian NEXT program as well as increased marketing expenses to drive demand and stimulate close-in bookings in the fourth quarter and to carry momentum into Wave season.

Norwegian's fuel price per metric ton, excluding the impact of hedges, was $605 compared to $686 in 2013. Norwegian said that it experienced a negative impact in 2014 of $10.3 million on the Company's hedge portfolio due to recent reductions in fuel prices compared to a benefit of $4.7 million in 2013. Net of hedges, fuel price per metric ton decreased to $625 compared to $675 in 2013. Norwegian said that it's fuel consumption per Capacity Day decreased 3.1%.

Interest expense, net was $151.8 million in 2014 compared to $282.6 million in 2013. Interest expense for 2014 reflected an increase in average debt outstanding associated with newbuild financings and debt incurred in connection with the acquisition of Prestige, substantially offset by lower interest rates from the benefits of the redemption of higher rate debt and refinancing transactions. In addition, 2014 reflects $15.4 million of expenses related to financing transactions in conjunction with the acquisition of Prestige while 2013 reflects $160.6 million of expenses associated with debt prepayments.

Fourth Quarter 2014 Results
Due to the timing of the closing of the acquisition, results from the consolidation of Prestige are more evident in the fourth quarter compared to the full year. Adjusted EPS in the period was $0.36 on Adjusted Net Income of $77.6 million, and excludes debt-related and other expenses related to the Prestige acquisition. On a GAAP basis, loss per share and net loss for the quarter were $(0.12) and $(25.6) million, respectively. On a Norwegian Stand-alone basis, Adjusted EPS was $0.40. GAAP earnings per share as well as Adjusted EPS on both an as reported and Norwegian Stand-alone basis include the benefit of the completion of our global tax platform.

Adjusted Net Revenue, for the period, which excludes the aforementioned deferred revenue fair value adjustment, increased 37.5% to $618.7 million on 23.8% growth in Capacity Days from the addition of Norwegian Getaway and the Prestige fleet as well as an 11.1% improvement in Adjusted Net Yield resulting from the addition of the Prestige fleet and a 3.9% increase on a Norwegian Stand-alone basis (4.5% on a Constant Currency basis).

Adjusted Net Cruise Cost Excluding Fuel per Capacity Day increased 9.9% as a result of the addition of the Prestige fleet and was essentially flat on a Norwegian Stand-alone basis. Fuel price per metric ton, excluding hedges was $529 for the fourth quarter of 2014 and $656 in 2013. The impact of the change in fuel prices on the Company's hedge portfolio in these same periods was a negative impact of $10.5 million in 2014 and a benefit of $0.8 million in 2013. Fuel price per metric ton, net of hedges, was $599 compared to $649 in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Interest expense, net increased to $56.4 million from $24.6 million primarily due to the aforementioned expenses in connection with the acquisition of Prestige and incremental interest expense related to the additional debt incurred in connection with the acquisition.

2015 Guidance and Sensitivities
In addition to the results for the fourth quarter and full year 2014, Norwegian also provided the following guidance for the first quarter and full year 2015, along with accompanying sensitivities. Guidance for Adjusted Net Yield and Adjusted Net Cruise Cost Excluding Fuel per Capacity Day are provided on an as reported basis as well as a Combined Company basis which compares expectations to 2014 results that include Prestige results assuming the acquisition had occurred at the beginning of 2014.

"Until recently, our booked revenue had been on par with prior year; however, the last three weeks of this Wave season has seen a significant acceleration in booking volume. Norwegian Escape is in a better booked position than her last two predecessor sister ships, Norwegian Breakaway and Getaway, and Seven Seas Explorer has set both single day and single week booking records at the Regent brand. At year end, and as of today, Norwegian said that it has more booked revenue and the highest net yields on future sailings than ever before, including full year 2015 and 2016," said Del Rio. "As anticipated, the combined impacts of the challenging Caribbean capacity and pricing environment along with a normalized winter season for the Norwegian brand, which last year included an extended bareboat charter of Norwegian Jade for the Sochi Olympics, results in tempered expectations for the first quarter. Looking to the balance of the year, the outlook is much more encouraging with solid pricing and booking trends across all markets. While 2015 is primarily an organic year, we expect to deliver robust Adjusted EPS growth of approximately 23%," said Del Rio.

Video Highlights from the February Cunard Royal Rendezvous
On 5 February, Cunard kicked off the company's 175th Anniversary celebrations in the U.S. by paying homage to the Queen Mary when Queen Elizabeth docked in the port of Long Beach, California for the first time. Enthusiastic well-wishers turned out for the festivities which featured an emotional speech read by the Queen Mary's Commodore Everette Hoard to the gathered crowd about the history of the Queen Mary, currently celebrating her 80th year in public life. Whistle salutes between the two ships followed, and a dazzling fireworks display finished the day as the ship pulled away from her berth.

Video Highlights the February Cunard Royal RendezvousThis was the first time a Cunard ship had berthed in Long Beach since Queen Mary arrived at her retirement home in October 1967. In recent years the current Cunard fleet has saluted Queen Mary during brief visits to the harbour. Queen Mary will celebrate the 80th anniversary of her Maiden Voyage in May 2016.

"During our 175-year history, the Queen Mary has been one of our most beloved ships," said Richard Meadows, President, Cunard, North America. "This meeting of the Queens was especially memorable for our passengers, as this maiden call offered them the opportunity to disembark in Long Beach and experience the Queen Mary, an integral part of our history and tradition."

Earlier in the day, the Queen Mary debuted their new Ship Model Gallery, featuring Cunard models of Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria andQueen Elizabeth 2, along with the original Bassett-Lowke shipbuilder's model of the Queen Mary – a spectacular and historically significant ship model measuring over 20 feet in length.

In attendance for the celebratory ribbon-cutting was: Richard Meadows, President, Cunard, North America; Bernadette Greene, Deputy British Consul-General of Los Angeles; Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia; John Jenkins, General Manager of the Queen Mary; and Everette Hoard, Commodore of the Queen Mary. In addition, Master of Queen Elizabeth Captain Alistair Clark was also in attendance.

Carnival Vista To Operate Year-Round From Miami; Carnival Breeze And Carnival Liberty Reposition To Galveston
PortMiami will be the year-round homeport for Carnival Cruise Line's largest ship to date, the 133,500-ton Carnival Vista, when it launches six- to eight-day Caribbean cruises beginning in December 2016.

Currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, Carnival Vista will take cruising to new heights, introducing groundbreaking features such as SkyRide, a suspended open-air cycling experience; the world's first IMAX® Theatre on a ship; Kaleid-O-Slide, the line's first water tube slide; and RedFrog Pub, including the line's first onboard brewery.

VCarnival Vista To Operate Year-Round From MiamiCarnival will further bolster its leadership position in Galveston, repositioning Carnival Breeze and Carnival Liberty to Texas in 2016, joining Carnival Freedom which arrives in Galveston this Saturday. Carnival Breeze and Carnival Liberty will replace Carnival Magic and Carnival Triumph, respectively, in Galveston. Details on new homeports for Carnival Magic and Carnival Triumph, as well as year-round departures from San Juan, will be provided over the coming weeks.

With Carnival Breeze, Carnival Liberty and Carnival Freedom, Galveston will be home to three of the line's most innovative ships offering the widest array of cruise durations and itineraries to top destinations in Mexico, Belize, Isla Roatan and The Bahamas. These three ships will carry 600,000 passengers annually from Galveston – more than any other cruise operator.

"Miami and Galveston are among our most popular points of embarkation and deploying our newest, most innovative ships to these homeports speaks volumes about our confidence in growing these markets," said Christine Duffy, Carnival's president. "These ships not only offer our guests incredible on-board experiences but also provide our valued travel agent partners with exciting new choices to market to their clients," she added.

Carnival Vista kicks off its new schedule from PortMiami with a special four-day cruise to Grand Turk departing Nov. 29, 2016. The ship will then launch year-round six- and eight-day cruises beginning with an eight-day voyage departing Dec. 3, 2016. Six-day cruises feature Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, while a mix of different eight-day itineraries visit some of the Caribbean's most sought-after destinations, including Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Kitts, St. Maarten and La Romana (Dominican Republic).

The ship will also offer a combination of one-time voyages, including a five-day cruise departing Dec. 11 and seven-day voyages departing Dec. 17 and 24, 2016, that offer an exciting selection of ports including the Caribbean's newest destination, Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic, as well as Mahogany Bay, Grand Turk, Belize, San Juan, St. Thomas and Cozumel, depending on the itinerary.

In addition to visiting breathtaking Caribbean destinations, guests can experience all the Carnival Vista has to offer – from the colorful Havana area with tropics-inspired staterooms and suites and Family Harbor with special accommodations and a new family concierge to delicious choices like Seafood Shack and new al fresco options at the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, Bonsai Sushi and Cherry On Top, featuring a mixed-to-order premium ice cream bar.

Prior to the start-up of year-round service from Miami, Carnival Vista will operate a pair of voyages round-trip from New York beginning with a three-day cruise November 4-7, 2016, followed by an 11-day voyage departing Nov. 7, 2016, and visiting Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas, Antigua and St. Maarten. Carnival Vista will then offer a spectacular 11-day cruise from New York to Miami Nov. 18-29, 2016, with calls at Grand Turk, Bonaire, Aruba and St. Maarten, an unmatched combination of great destinations not available on any other cruise from New York.

Carnival Vista is slated to operate an inaugural season of European cruises May to October 2016 before repositioning to New York, then launching year-round Caribbean cruises from Miami in November 2016.

Carnival Liberty and Carnival Breeze will shift to Galveston in 2016, providing consumers with Texas-sized fun on departures from the Lone Star State.

Carnival Liberty will launch year-round four- and five-day cruises to Mexico from Galveston beginning March 21, 2016. Four-day "long weekend" cruises depart Thursdays and feature a stop at Cozumel, while five-day voyages depart Mondays and Saturdays visiting Cozumel and Progreso. Prior to the start-up of its new Texas-based program, Carnival Liberty will offer a special three-day cruise round-trip from Galveston March 18-21, 2016.

Carnival Breeze – the line's newest ship – will offer three different week-long itineraries visiting popular ports in the Caribbean, Mexico and Florida beginning Dec. 11, 2016. Western Caribbean voyages call at either Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel or Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Cozumel, while a Bahamas/Florida route includes Nassau, Freeport, and Key West. Carnival Breeze will also offer a special two-day cruise from Galveston Dec. 9-11, 2016, before kicking off its new year-round seven-day schedule.

Carnival Breeze and Carnival Liberty bring exciting new choices to Galveston, each with an array of on-board features. Carnival Breeze offers such innovations as a multi-dimensional cinema experience called Thrill Theater, Bonsai Sushi full-service Asian restaurant and WaterWorks highlighted by a 312-foot-long slide, while Carnival Liberty offers a classic American steakhouse, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar and a 14,500-square-foot spa.

In preparation for their new deployments, Carnival Liberty and Carnival Breeze will each operate a unique 12-day cruise in 2016, visiting a variety of exotic Caribbean destinations. These departures have been created especially for those guests who are looking for a longer-length cruise vacation providing more time to enjoy the ships' wide range of amenities while visiting less frequently traveled islands throughout the Caribbean.

Carnival Liberty will offer a 12-day cruise from San Juan to Galveston March 6-18, 2016, calling at St. Thomas, Barbados, Tobago, Grenada, Aruba and Grand Cayman. Carnival Breeze will operate a 12-day cruise departing Miami Nov. 27, 2016, and arriving in Galveston Dec. 9, 2016. Featured ports on this one-time voyage include St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Curacao, Aruba and Cozumel.

Princess Cruises Debuts New Love Boat-Inspired Drink
Princess Cruises, the cruise line made famous as the backdrop of the iconic Love Boat television series, debuted a new cocktail today in time to sweeten Valentine's Day celebrations on the high seas. Original Love Boat cast member Ted Lange, who played Isaac the bartender, created the amorous concoction, drawing inspiration from his character's signature grin-and-point move and bright red jacket. The new drink is debuting on all Princess cruise ships in time for Valentine's Day.

Princess Cruises Debuts New Love Boat-Inspired DrinkFittingly called, "The Isaac," the refreshing love potion includes white rum - a nod to Lange's favorite cruise destination, the Caribbean; pomegranate syrup – channeling the famous red jacket his character wore and also an aphrodisiac; two pineapple leaves as garnish – tribute to his character's two-finger signature point; lime juice and club soda, to add some sparkle.

Lange recently visited Crown Princess to demonstrate how to make his new creation for the ship's bartenders and a video of this lighthearted demonstration can be seen here.

"The Love Boat put Princess Cruises on the map, bringing the romance and adventure of our cruise vacations into millions of viewers' homes for the decade it was on air. So, who better to create a special cocktail celebrating love and romance at sea than Ted, who turned his character into the world's most famous bartender," said Rai Caluori, the line's executive vice president of guest experience and product development.

"Most people don't know that while I was serving up drinks on the Love Boat, I also became a licensed bartender in real life," said Lange. "If a bartender recognizes me, he or she always wants me to try their special drink. Now, I'm excited for everyone to try my special drink and I know they are going to love it. Like the song says, 'come aboard, the Isaac's waiting for you!'"

"The Isaac" is the line's latest new onboard offering furthering Princess' love quotient. Last fall, the cruise line unveiled " Chocolate Journeys," an enticing array of onboard chocolate offerings including custom-crafted desserts, chocolate and wine pairings, and exquisite chocolate bites created by one of the top names in artisan chocolate, Norman Love.

To enjoy "The Isaac" at home, here's the cocktail recipe:

Ingredients:
2 oz white rum
2 oz pomegranate syrup
½ oz fresh lime juice
splash of club soda
lime slice(s)
2 pineapple leaf spears
Glass: highball glass

Preparation: Fill highball glass with 2/3 ice or desired amount of ice. Into a cocktail shaker, add ice, white rum, pomegranate syrup and lime juice. Shake and strain into highball glass, filling just to the top of the ice. Top off with club soda and garnish with a fresh lime slice and two pineapple spears.

Carnival Freedom's Arrival In Galveston Marked With $100,000 Donation To Operation Homefront And Shipboard Concert
Carnival Cruise Line, Texas' number-one cruise operator, marked the arrival of Carnival Freedom at its new year-round homeport of Galveston on Saturday, Feb. 14, with a celebration honoring U.S. military personnel and their families.

In partnership with Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit organization that supports military families, service members and their families were treated to an overnight event featuring a variety of daytime activities, including an exclusive outdoor Carnival LIVE performance by country music superstar Martina McBride, along with dinner and a full evening of entertainment, all compliments of Carnival.

Carnival Freedom's Arrival In Galveston Marked With $100,000 Donation To Operation Homefront And Shipboard ConcertPrior to McBride's concert, Carnival presented a check in the amount of $100,000 to Operation Homefront.

"We're excited to kick off Carnival Freedom's year-round deployment from Galveston with a donation to an organization that touches so many lives and a special event for the brave men and women who serve our country," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. "Martina McBride put on a fantastic show and we were thrilled to honor these deserving military families and provide them with an incredible day and night to remember."

Carnival Freedom kicked off year-round departures from Galveston yesterday with a special six-day voyage to Mexico and will launch four- to seven-day cruises calling at ports throughout Mexico, the Caribbean, Bahamas and Florida beginning Feb. 21. Carnival Freedom joins Carnival Triumph and Carnival Magic in Galveston. Together these three ships will carry more than 600,000 passengers annually from Texas — more than any other cruise line.

McBride, a 14-time GRAMMY nominee, performed on Carnival Freedom's upper deck in the first Carnival LIVE show staged outdoors. It was her second time participating in the Carnival LIVE concert series that offers guests the best live music at sea from popular acts spanning a variety of musical genres.

"Performing for these military families was an incredible honor. And everyone really enjoyed the outdoor setting on the ship's deck," said McBride. "I hope that everyone who was there had a special Valentine's Day experience; I'm so glad I was asked to be part of it."

"We're thrilled Carnival Cruise Line honored these service members and their families by providing a truly memorable day and evening of onboard fun and exciting activities," said Tim Farrell, chief operating officer for Operation Homefront. "In that spirit, we're also grateful for Carnival Cruise Line's generous gift of $100,000, which will help military families here in Texas and throughout the country."

Carnival Freedom recently underwent a $70 million makeover that added an array of Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancements, and attendees at Saturday's event had full access to the ship's many on-board innovations, including new family entertainment programming such as Seuss at Sea and Camp Ocean featuring 200 marine-themed activities.

The renovation also included complimentary eateries such as BlueIguana Cantina, and Guy's Burger Joint, developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri, along with exciting new bar concepts BlueIguana Tequila Bar, RedFrog Rum Bar, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar and the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub. Four new high-tech Playlist Productions shows were added, as well.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 43.29/FONT> - 0.51%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 74.26 - 0.64%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.72 - 3.20%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 43.40 + 0.16%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the name of the cruise ship that caught fire during a Christmas cruise in 1963 and sank six days later?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Which cruise ship was the first to offer large picture windows for INSIDE cabins?

Answer - Voyager of the Seas has large picture windows overlooking the atrium of their ship.
courtesy of Bill Thompson, Tampa, FL


Cruise News - February 9, 2015

Viking Star Completes Successful Sea Trials
Viking Ocean Cruises today released a new online video documenting the recent successful sea trials of its first ship – the 930-passenger Viking Star – set to debut in April. The trials, which took place in the Aegean Sea in mid-December, represented the vessel's first voyage in open water.

Viking Star Completes Successful Sea TrialsDuring nearly a week of intense diagnostics, maritime experts executed more than 80 different tests designed to evaluate everything from Viking Star's engine and propulsion performance to her navigation systems and cabin acoustics. Following the trials, Captain Gulleik Svalastog deemed her "one of the most agile, state-of-the-art and seaworthy ships on the water, destined to exceed the expectations of the most well-traveled guest."

"Following six months of nonstop construction since her float out, this was a major milestone for Viking Star, and we are proud to be another step closer to launch," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "Now we can focus on the finishing touches, and we look forward to welcoming guests onboard in two months' time."

Currently back at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard for final outfitting and interior decorating, Viking Star will take on her first guests on April 11. She will then set sail from Istanbul, making her way through the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic on her way to be officially christened in the homeland of the Vikings. On May 17 in Bergen, Norway, guests onboard will be treated to a celebration that will be seen throughout the world. One of the most important days of the year in Norway – Norwegian Constitution Day – dignitaries from around the country and thousands of Bergen residents will gather along the waterfront to welcome Viking Star to port and to share in the festivities. Bergen Mayor Trude Drevland will serve as godmother to Viking Star and will officially "name" the ship during its christening ceremony.

HAL's ms Koningsdam to Feature New Culinary Experiences
When ms Koningsdam joins the Holland America Line fleet in February 2016, the ship will debut the cruise line's evolving culinary vision with new dining and eatery concepts, reimagined venues and innovative features that incorporate the essence of the line's renowned and award-winning dining experience.

HAL's ms Koningsdam to Feature New Culinary ExperiencesAlthough the ship is still under construction, travelers already can come "onboard" through a new video at www.hollandamerica.com that explores the culinary experience through sweeping visuals and vibrant renderings.

"Koningsdam allows us to leverage our culinary creativity and debut new brand-exclusive venues and magnificent food concepts as well as enhance our current successful offerings," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "We know that guests are going to be excited with our many creative dining choices and appealing new experiences aboard Koningsdam."

Guests will have the opportunity to embark on a culinary adventure that features cuisine from around the world in several alternative restaurants; an immersive dining experience in the reimagined Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine; a re-designed casual Lido Market with themed serving stations; relaxing cafes; and an exciting, interactive culinary-themed walkway — all in addition to the main dining room. All menus are developed by award-winning Holland America Line's Master Chef Rudi Sodamin, working closely with the line's team of highly regarded international chefs.

"With Koningsdam, we are building upon our outstanding culinary foundation," said Sodamin, who recently was named Best Cruise Line Chef by Porthole Magazine. "Our guests will truly appreciate the many inventive menu choices and the visionary innovations that will be delivered with our first Pinnacle Class ship."

Take a Stroll Through the Heart of ms Koningsdam's Culinary Experience Deck 2 will showcase several of the ship's dining venues along one central promenade. In addition to the Main Dining Room, guests will find the Culinary Arts Center, alternative venues the Pinnacle Grill and Sel de Mer — the new French seafood brasserie — and interactive displays presenting icons of the food and wine world.

A central bar area overlooking the atrium enables guests to check in for their alternative-dining reservation at a hosted central podium, relax with a pre-dinner cocktail and peruse the menu before ordering prior to being escorted and seated at the restaurant.

As guests make their way along Deck 2, they'll pass the Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine. On Koningsdam, the center becomes a dedicated shipboard setting with a dramatic show kitchen and individual cooking stations that will be used exclusively for Culinary Arts Center activities such as cooking demonstrations and hands-on classes by visiting celebrity chefs and the ship's own experts. Regionally inspired workshops, as well as kids' and teens' cooking classes, also will be featured. Large mirrors, viewing screens and an open kitchen make it possible for everyone to watch the food preparation and learn from the comfort of their table.

In the evening, the room transforms into a new dining concept called Dinner at the Culinary Arts Center, an immersive farm-to-table experience where the chefs prepare simple, artisanal dishes in the show kitchen and guests enjoy each course as it's freshly prepared. Every meal will emphasize fresh, thoughtfully sourced selections while incorporating select ingredients harvested from a glass-enclosed growing area just off the kitchen.

Lining the entry to the Culinary Arts Center are nine interactive displays that allow guests to explore the lives of food and wine luminaries, their culinary secrets, recipe tips, favorite dishes and more.

Indulge in the Freshest Seafood at Sel de Mer - New to Koningsdam is an intimate French seafood brasserie called Sel de Mer. Located next to the popular Pinnacle Grill, Sel de Mer, or "salt of the sea" in French, will serve a classic selection of French seafood dishes with a contemporary twist — from fresh oysters, seafood chowder and fruits de mer to salt-crusted whole fish, scallops and bouillabaisse. Sel de Mer will re-create a setting reminiscent of the finest French brasseries where waiters are traditionally dressed and guests may choose their evening meal from a selection of fresh fish and shell fish displayed on ice in the center of the room. The Koningsdam's chefs also will go ashore whenever possible and bring back the catch of the day as a daily special for the evening's menu. Sel de Mer will be available for a modest charge.

Pacific Northwest Dishes Featured at the Pinnacle Grill - The award-winning Pinnacle Grill is located beside Sel de Mer. The popular alternative restaurant will continue to feature Pacific Northwest cuts of beef and other traditional steakhouse favorites. The centerpiece of the Pinnacle Grill is a dramatic glass-enclosed wine room situated between the two restaurants. Guests will be able to view all of the wines from both venues and chose their favorite vintage from among hundreds of selections. As on all the ships, a fee is charged for the Pinnacle Grill.

A Rich Selection of Options and New Innovations Abound - Koningsdam will feature a selection of additional dining options throughout the ship. From the casual Lido Market and new Grand Dutch Cafe to Tamarind and Canaletto, guests will be delighted with the variety of venues.

Lido Market Evolves with Themed Stations - When guests head to Lido Market on Koningsdam, they'll notice a transformation from traditional Lido dining areas into a modern marketplace, offering a curated selection of delicious options guests can grab either on-the-go or have quickly made to order. Different themed stations with walk-up service will showcase specific types of food, such as fresh-made innovative sandwiches, salads, international fare, comfort-style dishes, desserts and more. The area will have a market-like atmosphere with display shelves, daily specials highlighted on menu boards, servers in distinct uniforms and market-style signage.

Stations will feature:
- "Breadboard," serving freshly baked breads, pastries, and delicious signature sandwiches.
- "Wild Harvest," offering a bountiful selection of salads, fruits and health-conscious options.
- "Homestead," serving home-style scrambled eggs at breakfast and herb-roasted chicken and other comfort classics at lunch and dinner.
- "Distant Lands," presenting great tastes from around the globe as well as from the regions visited by the ship.
- "Sweet Spot," offering delicious desserts and treats.

New Grand Dutch Cafe Reflects the Company's Rich Heritage - Vibrant shades of Delftware's blue and white converge with the silhouettes of charming Amsterdam buildings in the whimsical Grand Dutch Cafe. Located on Deck 3 at the top of the Atrium, the new venue is a nod to Holland America Line's rich heritage and the ideal place to grab Dutch-themed snacks or beverages, with Heineken beer on tap.

Tamarind Brings the Flavors of Asia Onboard - Tamarind carries on the success found aboard ms Eurodam and ms Nieuw Amsterdam with an enhanced experience on Koningsdam. Featuring the culinary traditions of Southeast Asia, China and Japan, Tamarind will be located on the uppermost deck, providing guests with stunning panoramic views. New to Koningsdam will be an intimate sushi bar inside Tamarind with select seating for seven guests for lunch and dinner. Dining at Tamarind is available for a nominal fee.

Indulge in Italian Delicacies at Canaletto - Adjacent to the Lido dining area, every evening the festive Canaletto features an authentic Italian "sharing" dinner experience that offers a variety of dishes to enjoy and share with family and friends. The small-plate menu was conceived out of the desire to slow down the meal and create a more authentic Italian experience. Dining at Canaletto carries a minimal fee.

The Culinary Adventure Continues - Guests will find additional venues on Koningsdam, including the outdoor Dive-In at the Terrace Grill by the ship's Lido pool that features signature burgers, hot dogs and fries; and the Main Dining Room that will continue to offer two seatings and menus that highlight the dishes of Holland America Line's Culinary Council — Master Chef and Council Chairman Rudi Sodamin and renowned international chefs Mark Best, Jonnie Boer, David Burke, Elizabeth Falkner and Jacques Torres. A grand wine tower that stretches between the two decks of the restaurant will be the focal point.

Crystal Cruises Expands Use Of Shipboard Credits To Wage In Crystal Casinos
Crystal Cruises announced this week that it is expanding its onboard options by allowing travelers to convert shipboard credits in the form of non-cashable slot vouchers or special table game chips in the casinos. Effective with Crystal Symphony's March 9 Singapore to Hong Kong sailing and Crystal Serenity's March 13 Perth to Cape Town voyage, guests can convert shipboard credit in denominations of $5, $10 or $25 vouchers for slots; and $5 or $25 for table games, with no maximum limit.

Crystal Cruises Expands Use Of Shipboard Credits To Wage In Crystal Casinos"Our guests are savvy travelers who relish a multitude of thrills, including trying their hands at the tables and slots," says Crystal president, Edie Rodriguez. "The new use of shipboard credit in our casinos is another benefit to Crystal's all-inclusive experience and further enhances our onboard enrichment."

While the slot vouchers or special table game chips used from shipboard credits are not redeemable for cash themselves, winning wagers will be paid in cashable vouchers and chips. Any remaining table games chips or unused slot vouchers can be re-deposited to the guest's shipboard credit account for use toward any other applicable Crystal amenity or experience, including indulgent spa treatments or thrilling Crystal Adventures ashore. Shipboard credit vouchers in the casino are not refundable once they are used and lost.

Crystal's lavish onboard casinos on Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity are elegantly stylish venues offering Nevada-style gaming and glittering excitement. Thrilling games of Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, 3 Card Poker™, Ultimate Texas Hold'em™ and Mini-Baccarat (on request), as well as slot and video poker machines are available. Casinos are open to all guests age 18 and over, and are subject to closure in various ports.

Disney Cruise Line Introduces Star Wars Day at Sea
In 2016, Disney Cruise Line guests can celebrate the legendary adventures and iconic characters from the Star Wars saga during a brand-new, day-long celebration aboard eight special sailings on the Disney Fantasy: Star Wars Day at Sea.

Disney Cruise Line Introduces Star Wars Day at SeaMarking the first official appearance of the heroes and villains of Star Wars aboard a Disney Cruise Line ship, Star Wars Day at Sea combines the power of the Force, the magic of Disney and the excitement of cruising for an out-of-this-galaxy experience unlike any other.

Occurring one day during each of eight Disney Fantasy sailings, Star Wars Day at Sea will transport guests to a galaxy far, far away -- in the Western Caribbean. The event features a full day of Star Wars celebrations, including a deck party, meet-and-greets with favorite characters, Star Wars-themed youth activities, unique food and beverage offerings, and special merchandise.

Also featured will be exclusive at-sea screenings of the Star Wars films and the new Disney XD animated series, Star Wars Rebels.

Throughout the day, Star Wars Younglings, Padawans and Jedi Masters alike will enjoy the immersive entertainment. Intergalactic highlights include:

Force-filled Fun for Everyone

• Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Boba Fett, Stormtroopers and other characters from across the Star Wars galaxy will be onboard for scheduled meet and greets, as well as roaming on deck and elsewhere around the ship. Guests also are encouraged to dress up in their own stellar costumes.

• A shipboard version of the popular Jedi Training Academy experience invites young Jedi hopefuls – known as "Padawans" – to learn lightsaber moves from a Jedi Master. They can then use the Force and face off in a final test against the evil Darth Vader.

• Kids and families enjoy friendly competition during Star Wars trivia games, covering fun facts from the film and television sagas.

• For Younglings, Star Wars-themed arts and crafts, games and activities will be offered throughout the day in Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab youth clubs.

• In the evening, adults entering the night club will feel like they stepped into the Mos Eisley cantina scene. Characters and cantina music set the mood as Star Wars-themed specialty cocktails are served.

Film Screenings and Celebrities

• Guests can watch the first six Star Wars films and follow Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke and Leia along their epic journey.

• Also showing will be episodes of the new Disney XD animated series, Star Wars Rebels.

• On each of the special sailings, celebrities and insiders from the Star Wars galaxy will share their experiences, meet fans and sign autographs.

Star Wars Deck Party and Fireworks

• There's intergalactic fun when the Star Wars deck party blasts off to an exciting evening filled with music, dancing and games.

• Star Wars characters converge on the deck stage for a celebration of the Star Wars saga in a show featuring special effects and guest participation.

• The deck party culminates in a spectacular display of themed pyrotechnics, lighting, sound effects, lasers and Star Wars music.

Star Wars Day at Sea will be on Disney Fantasy cruises sailing on Jan. 9, 23; Feb. 6, 20; March 5, 19; April 2 and 16, 2016. Departing from Port Canaveral, the seven-night Western Caribbean itinerary includes Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands and Disney's private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.

NCL Expands North America Sales Team
Norwegian Cruise Line today announced a substantial expansion to the company's North American sales team, almost doubling the number of business development managers in the field, and increasing the overall sales group by more than 40 percent. Building on Norwegian's Partners First philosophy, this investment signifies the line?s committment to having the most engaged, empowered and responsive sales team in the cruise industry in order to promote the long-term success of its valued travel partners.

Disney Cruise Line Introduces Star Wars Day at SeaWith the recent addition of exciting and innovative capacity and significantly more to come, this expansion will allow us to build closer, more effective partnerships with our travel partners across North America," said Drew Madsen, Norwegian Cruise Line's president and chief operating officer. "By growing our sales team, we can reach more travel partners. Combine this increased reach with the significant investment we have made in marketing tools, booking automation, training, co-operative marketing dollars and the youngest fleet in the North American cruise industry and we believe we have a winning formula."

As a part of the expansion, new field sales representatives will be added in regions throughout the United States and Canada, including multiple positions in California, as well as an expanded presence in New York, Texas, and the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The Norwegian field sales team will also add a new business development manager position and a director of sales for Canada, joining the four managers already fully dedicated to Canadian travel partners. Sales managers will also be added to the National Accounts, Key Accounts, Charters, Meetings & Incentives and Inside Sales teams based in Miami, to further boost the company's industry leading world-class sales force.

"Our aggressive and sizable investment into our sales force will not only allow us to personally reach more travel professionals, but will also allow us to deepen the relationships we have with our travel partners," said Andy Stuart, Norwegian's executive vice president of sales. "I am immensely proud of our sales team and what they've accomplished over the years. It's now time to build on that success and continue to put our Partners First."

Leading the expanded sales force are three seasoned industry professionals: Nathan Hickman, who recently joined Norwegian from Oceania Cruises as vice president of field sales and national accounts; Alex Pinelo, a long time veteran of Norwegian, who was recently appointed vice president of key accounts, and Katina Athanasiou, vice president of charters, meetings and incentives for Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

State Of The Cruise Industry: 2015 To See Robust Growth
Today, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) released its annual State of the Cruise Industry Report and is once again projecting strong growth for the cruise industry in 2015.

A record 23 million passengers are expected to sail this year, with 61 percent of North American CLIA-certified travel agents reporting an increase in 2015 travel bookings over this time last year. Cruise lines are enticing travelers with nearly 1,000 ports of call in new, exotic locations, especially in the fast-growing Asian market. CLIA also revealed that member cruise lines are scheduled to debut 22 new ocean, river and specialty ships in 2015 for a total investment of more than $4 billion.

State Of The Cruise Industry: 2015 To See Robust GrowthThe cruise industry this year will have major economic impact globally. In 2013, the global economic output of the cruise industry was more than $117 billion; the industry supported nearly 900,000 jobs and contributed to $38 billion in wages.

"From new ports around the globe to the investment by CLIA's member cruise lines in new, innovative ships, it's an exciting time for the cruise industry and cruise passengers," said Adam M. Goldstein, CLIA Chairman and President/COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "This year will prove to be another step forward for the entire industry as our members continue to strive to make cruising the best overall vacation experience."

Using several research studies, CLIA identified seven 2015 cruise industry outlooks:

  1. Travelers Will Continue to Set Sail – Cruise travelers intend to continue to set sail and are highly satisfied with prior cruise experiences. In fact, 62 percent are return cruisers and 69 percent ranked cruising as a better value than a land-based vacation. Overall, CLIA member ocean passenger volume is projected to increase to 23 million in 2015, a four-percent increase over 2014 estimates of 22.1 million.
  2. Size Doesn't Matter – Five years ago, the largest cruise ship in the world was introduced with a 6,300-passenger capacity. With 22 new ocean, river and specialty cruise ships scheduled for debut this year, the focus is less on size and more on unique design and amenities.
  3. Specialty Cruises Continue to Thrive – CLIA's specialty segments, which includes sophisticated ships, luxury yachts, elegant ocean liners and the newest river cruises, continue to experience double digit passenger growth. In fact, specialty cruises grew by 21 percent annually from 2009 to 2014 estimates.
  4. Caribbean Continues to Be Queen – The Caribbean remains queen for the cruise industry with more than a third of the global deployment capacity market share in 2015. At the same time, cruise travelers are expanding horizons. The Mediterranean continues to grow as a destination, as well as other regions including Asia and Australia. In 2015, 52 ships will provide 1,065 Asian cruises with capacity for 2.17 million passengers.
  5. Oh, the New Places We Will Go – The cruise industry is seeing an increase in passengers looking for global experiences. As a result, cruising has made the world more accessible than ever. CLIA's member cruise lines offer nearly 1,000 ports around the globe, including many areas that fall within a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  6. Travel Agents Are Key to Cruise Travel – While the Internet and mobile devices have overtaken how consumers make purchases, travel agents continue to be the most popular and best way to book a cruise. In fact, seven out of ten cruise travelers (70 percent) use a travel agent to plan and book cruise vacations.
  7. Passengers Are at the Helm – When it comes to travel, consumers are in control more than ever before. The cruise industry is excited, motivated and responding with key innovations that are meeting the needs of today's passengers, such as bow-to-stern Wi-Fi and phone connectivity, multigenerational appeal, themed cruises and "foodcations".

The Travel Agent Pulse Survey was conducted among 482 North American CLIA-certified travel agents via an online survey between November 7-23, 2014. The 2014 North American Cruise Market Profile Survey was conducted in partnership with market research firm TNS and cruise industry consultancy Bob Sharak & Associates. Drawn from a panel of more than 1 million households, an online survey was conducted between August 12-26, 2014, which collected cruise and travel opinion data among 1,600 U.S. and Canadian residents. This report presents data on travelers who are 25 or older with an annual household income of more than $40,000.

Financial Highlights
The Board of Directors of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) today declared a quarterly dividend of $0.30 per common share payable on March 4, 2015, to shareholders of record at the close of business on February 18, 2015.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 42.65 - 1.98%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 73.75 - 1.32%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.75 - 2.14%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 42.93 - 0.92%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which cruise ship was the first to offer large picture windows for INSIDE cabins?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - If you were departing on a transatlantic crossing from Pier 90 in New York City in the early 1950's, what shipping company would you most likely have been traveling on?

Answer - Voyager of the Seas has large picture windows overlooking the atrium of their ship.
courtesy of Shiela K.


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